Politics

South Carolina Considers Switching to Electronic License Plates

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

South Carolina is considering switching from license plates to e-tags in order to improve highway safety. E-tags made of electronic paper would be linked to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which could send a signal to the plate reading “suspended,” “uninsured” and “stolen.”

The e-tags were created by a South Carolina Company called Compliance Innovation.

"It's the first of its kind," said company co-founder, David Findlay, to WSPA. "It's not an LCD or an LED. What it's made of is electronic paper. It's a new technology that allows you to hold the image with no power whatsoever for over 10 years. The only time it needs power is when you're changing the status or the image on the plate."

"We actually put that wording on the license plate across the top and — depending on how the state wants it — it could be in bright red, and we can actually flash the plate, have it flashing as it goes down the road," said co-founder, Brian Bannister.

The state could also change tags in the event of an Amber Alert or other emergencies. This does not mean, however, that the DMV will be able to locate the vehicle.

"No one entity could actually track an individual vehicle," Bannister said. "It would require three court orders: to the DMV, to us and the [cellular] carrier themselves to actually be able to locate a vehicle."

The state could save an estimated $150 million a year on uninsured motorists and expired tags.

South Carolina’s pilot program would use e-tags for state-owner vehicles while they work out the specifics of e-tags for everyone. The prototype is now bigger than metal plates, which the company hopes to reduce in size. Findlay said the company wants to reduce the cost of e-tags for the public to under $100.

Bannister and Findlay believe that the state could reduce the number of uninsured motorists — leading insurance companies to lower rates — if they switch to e-tags.

Sources: WSPA.com, WLTX.com