Could Illinois Plates Soon Increase Risks of Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere?

There may be more than your plate number on your license plate if the Illinois Secretary of State approves corporate logos in license plates. The office will be studying the possibility of placing corporate logos on license plates under a measure (SB 1360) that Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed into law.

What this means is that motorists could soon see company advertisements on their license plates. The big idea is that the state would be able to collect big bucks from corporations for the right to turn vehicles into billboards on wheels, according to the Chicago Tribune. Through this move, drivers would even be able to get a discounted vehicle registration fee if they’re willing to display the branded plates.
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Safe driving advocates worry that these tiny advertisements will only serve as another distraction to drivers. With license plates turned into mini billboards, drivers may be more inclined to scope out a vehicle’s plate instead of the surrounding traffic, which would increase you risks of being involved in a distracted driving-related car accident in Chicago.

Our Chicago auto accident attorneys understand that much more research has to be done on this idea before it in enacted, but lawmakers are expecting a conclusion by the first of the year. The study includes research on the cost of implementing such a program and how much public interest there might be for it. What should be studied more is the amount of driver distraction that these advertisements will cause.

As it stands now, our state already offers a large selection of plates promoting special causes. These plates are sold to motorists at a higher fee. The money from these sales benefits various charitable or research organizations.

The fee that participating corporations would pay would be more than enough to make up for the reduced cost of a participating vehicle’s registration fee. The plan, which has previously been discussed by the General Assembly, is believed to be a unique way to generate significant revenue for the state. Opponents of the ads claim that reading an Illinois plate is already challenging for police.

John Mulroe (D-Chicago), the bill’s sponsor, previously said that everyone wins under this bill because even if the plate program fails, it wouldn’t cost the state a thing.

Currently, there is only one state that allows corporate ads on their license plates — Texas. Its statewide program has already raised more than $50,000 for the state’s general revenue fund.

Motorists already have too many distractions to deal with behind the wheel. As a matter of fact, nearly 5,500 people died on U.S. roadways because of traffic accidents that reported the involvement of a distracted driver in 2009. Another 448,000 were injured in these types of accidents, according to distraction.gov. Many believe that these license plate advertisements will do nothing more than take driver focus an attention off the issue at hand — driving.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Illinois license plates could get ads, by Monique Garcia, Chicago Tribune
More Blog Entries:

New Report Focuses on Causes of and Solutions to Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 6, 2011

Proposed Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Legislation Aims to Reduce Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 4, 2011