UK Number Plate Law Statistics Explained

UK Number Plate

It is likely you’ll see dozens of number plates every day. Though drivers regularly buy personalised plates, UK road law is strict over what a number plate can be – from letter sequencing to styling. Ignoring it can result in fines of up to a whopping £1,000.

We’re an inquisitive bunch at Number Plate Clinic and want to put the public to the test, so, here is a survey of 2,000 UK drivers from all across the country, to see how the reg plates awareness really stacks up.

The majority of UK drivers are unsure of what makes a number plate illegal

We found that 98% of UK drivers can’t identify what does and what doesn’t qualify as a legal number plate. We gave respondents a set of twelve mock number plates and asked them which were roadworthy. One sported a football club logo, while another a crack down the middle!

We found that 98% of UK drivers can’t identify what does and what doesn’t qualify as a legal number plate. We gave respondents a set of twelve mock number plates and asked them which were roadworthy. One sported a football club logo, while another a crack down the middle!

We found a high amount of variation in the number plates that respondents deemed to be roadworthy. Only one in ten drivers thought they could mistakenly use a plate featuring a football club badge (like the one above), 15% of them thought their reg plate could use an unconventional font (like the plate below). In reality, there is only one font that plates can use: the Government’s standard approved font. In addition, 25% of the drivers thought a plate could use the Northern Irish flag, two in five said a cracked plate was legal, and 36% believed a plate could have a custom pattern.

Young drivers are more likely to purchase illegal plates than drivers over forty-five

We discovered that young drivers aged 16 to 24 are six times more likely to have previously bought illegal number plates.

Number plates can be purchased legally from DVLA certified manufacturers. Doing otherwise can land you in serious trouble.

More than 10% of our respondents under the age of 25 confessed that while they’re now aware they need to buy number plates at DVLA registered suppliers.

Number plate crime looks to be a big problem among younger drivers -and one that can lead to enormous fines.

Over three quarters of UK drivers are not aware how big number plate fines can be

Majority of drivers are unsure of how much they could be fined for driving with an illegal number plate.

Police can impose penalties of up to £1,000 for number plate related offences.

Many drivers thought the fines were much lesser, with 5% guessing £50, and 24% answering £100.

While only 29% responded correctly,  47% of drivers failing to give an answer.

The number of illegal number plates is on the rise

Alongside the survey, we got in touch with UK police forces to find out how many drivers are penalised for having unroadworthy plates per year. The number of illegal number plates rose by 18% between 2016, and 2017.

Nearly half of experienced drivers can’t remember when they last brushed up on the Highway Code

Over 45’s proved they had good number plate knowledge, we found that 42% of them could not remember the last time they read their road law.

The Highway Code changes frequently so it is crucial to keep your knowledge up to date.

Conclusion : Overall, it is clear that there’s a lot that drivers still need to learn about number plate law. They’re unsure about how a plate can fail legal requirements, are unaware of the fine they could face for breaking them, and many drivers may have broken the law by purchasing from illegal suppliers.

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