Plans for microchips in car number plates

Valluvan shows how standardised vehicle registration plates should look like. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Valluvan shows how standardised vehicle registration plates should look like. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 15 — Motorists could soon see their vehicle registration plates embedded with microchips as authorities plan measures to put an end to recalcitrant drivers’ behaviour and fancy plates.

“The introduction of microchips embedded in registration plates would have a multiple impact,” a high-ranking government source told Sunday Mail.

“It would put an end to fancy number plates produced by accessory dealers with absolute disregard to guidelines and specifications.”

The source said the move could see a reduction in car thefts and car cloning, and bust errant motorists who failed to pay their traffic summonses.

Sunday Mail learnt the microchips would contain information about the vehicle owner, the driver as well as engine and chassis numbers.

Other information that could be included are details of the vehicle such as its colour and model.

A handheld or dashboard-mounted chip reader would enable enforcement officers to verify details without having to flag down the motorist.

A comprehensive plan has been in the pipeline for some time and Transport Ministry senior officials are expected to announce this development at an appropriate time.

Accessory dealers who produce fancy registration plates said they heard efforts were under way to introduce high-tech plates.

“These are plates which regular traders like us cannot produce as it requires precision equipment,” one dealer said.

Road Transport Department enforcement director Datuk V. Valluvan Veloo confirmed efforts were under way to end the problem of fancy registration plates, but declined to comment on the microchip-embedded registration plates.

“We are putting a stop to these non-standard plates, which can be used as a tool for criminal activities, such as snatch theft,” he said.

Many motorists throw caution to the wind and show off their fancy registration plates to other road users.

Between 2013 and 2016, a total of 184,664 motorists were issued summonses for displaying fancy registration plates.

Valluvan said among the most popular fancy styles were variations of the word “BOSS”.

“The numbers 8055 are the most commonly seen ones. The vehicle owner would typically have this stylised to spell the word ‘BOSS’, usually by rounding off the two 5s,” he said.

“Others we have seen are JAW5 with the number 5 modified to look like ‘S’, and the plate looking like ‘JAWS’.”

The highest number of offenders during that period were from Selangor (24,623) followed by Penang (25,093) and Kuala Lumpur (15,458).

Last September, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi said the ministry sought a solution to close legal loopholes in the Motor Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Rules 1959.

He said measures being considered included standardising registration plates by the third quarter of this year.

Another measure is producing plates made of stamped metal to make it difficult to fabricate.

Aziz had also said the measures would be introduced without the need to increase costs for consumers and would avoid the manufacture of plates being monopolised.

With this move, vehicle registration plates produced by accessories shops could be a thing of the past.

Valluvan did not rule out the department was considering to standardise and control the production of unauthorised registration plates.

“There may be those who desire unique or personalised registration plates, but it must be done according to specifications and guidelines,” he said,

He said in other countries, registration plates needed to be bought from the country’s Department of Motor Vehicle, not merely any trader.

Related Articles