Texting People Via License Plates Isn't Social Networking -- It's Just Stupid

from the back-to-the-drawing-board dept

We recently noted how the latest useless trend was to add "social networking" to everything, highlighting some company's efforts to make social-networking taxis. This latest service one ups that: license plate-based "social networking" for drivers. Basically, you can register your license plate with this service, and then users can send you text messages by sending an SMS in that begins with your plate number. It's an idea that's been tried before, as well as adapted for use by the Finnish police, but this is the first time it's been called social networking! Whatever you call it, it really doesn't sound like such a great idea. Now, instead of just shooting you the middle finger, you can give other drivers the opportunity to deliver personalized text insults to you. Then, when you're on a PC (hopefully not while you're driving), you can view other drivers' profiles and try to hook up with them to, uh, fix their flat or something. The head of the company says it's "both simple and safe because you control the privacy" -- simple, perhaps, but how safe is a service that encourages people to type text messages on their phone while they drive? We've pointed out problems with laws that ban phone use while driving before, mainly that they distract from the real problem: unsafe driving. However, it's pretty safe to say that in nearly every instance, texting while driving wouldn't qualify as safe driving. So not only is this a pointless application of so-called social networking, it's a pretty stupid one as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    AMP, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 3:12pm

    Eh....

    At the ripe old age of 35, maybe I am jsut too old to get the social networking thing, but this just seems like a stupid idea to me.

     

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  2.  
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    Joe, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 3:18pm

    Just what I want

    Yeah, this is going to be great... I can already imagine the slurry of txt messages sent to me from guys trying to hit on my wife when she drives my car. Greaaaat......

     

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  3.  
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    Ron (profile), Dec 15th, 2006 @ 3:28pm

    Just What I Want

    Actually, Joe, if you were the one registered to the plate, YOU would be the one getting the text messages directed at your wife.
    On the ther hand, I have often wanted to tell some dipwad who just cut me off just what I think of him/her and this would be perfect. Sometimes an upraised central digit just does not convey enough.
    BTW: how are we supposed to know that the car we want to TM has registered with the service? A sticker in the window? Looks like a new way to harvest ID's for text spamming.

     

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  4.  
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    Mike, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Just What I Want

    Actually, Ron, I believe that is why Joe said:

    slurry of txt messages sent to me from guys trying to hit on my wife when she drives my car

     

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  5.  
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    Ron (profile), Dec 15th, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Sorry...

    yup, you're right. I skipped over those words. Good thing I don't drive that way.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 4:59pm

    I can see the bitching and wining about txt msgs charges this will raise when people fail to close their account online after registering to tell some fool off.

    It's going to inspire a whole hell of a lot more road rage.

    The death toll will rise in every city.

    Cops will be stretched to thin and never be paid enough.

    Sounds like the American Way!

     

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  7.  
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    Trvth Jvstice, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 5:06pm

    I'd loooove to be able to text the jerk that just pulled out in front of me. The bastard.

     

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  8.  
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    Chris, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 5:40pm

    Cell phones will kill us all...

    If we don't die first from the EMP cancer induced tumors that will soon be infested within all our brains because there's microwave towers every 30 miles, then we'll die from the moronic devices people create to distract people from keeping their eyes on the road. You dont need a DVD player in a damn roadster; there's only two of you. Not to mention most of the time, there's just the driver.

    DVD players to shut kids up in the backseats are a godsend. Crashing your car beacuse you want to watch some porn, as I recall hearing some NFL player did recently, well then you deserve to hit a wall or something, die, and then be tormented for a length of time that the human brain can't even fathom in a most unpleasurable manner. That or just the realization of being a complete dumbass because you wrecked your car. Soon enough some idiot will invent a HUD like device to notify you of incomming calls or even display text messeges, then someone will make one to show all the features of the phone, as to not rip off this U.S. Pat. #, ©, ™, ® device. Once that happens we'll have people playing snake on the freeway and it all goes downhill from there.

     

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  9.  
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    Pat, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 6:36pm

    pfft

    Yea. I think this would be GREAAAAT for road rage...

    /sarcasm

     

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  10.  
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    Curt, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 6:54pm

    Wise cell phone use, Phone numbers on cars

    I send text messages and e-mail from my phone while driving all the time. The big difference here is I use a service that takes my voice and converts spoken words to text. I never need to do anything but press one button and speak.
    If you need to send SMS or e-mail while driving, don't tap it out, your eyes will leave the road too long. Do the right thing and subscribe to a mobile voice control service.
    As for registering my license plate, no way! We communicate with other drivers well enough as it is.
    The more heated angry motorists get the worse the situation becomes. I have seen drivers get into road rage so bad the drivers crash and end up in a physical fight on the side of the road. .
    If you have to meet people DRIVING pull off the road smash your cell phone into your head, and take the bus from now on.
    I am not on the road for a social time, I am traveling from one place to another, and concentrating on getting there safely is the primary goal. I don't have time or desire to be exchanging unnecessary information with miscellaneous people on the road.
    I figure if I did I would probably put big signs on my vehicle with my mobile telephone number on them...
    I guess anyone who wants to participate in this type of social networking could do the same thing. WOW big signs, new concept.
    As for the rest of us we will just keep motoring down the road anonymously.

     

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  11.  
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    Jesse McNelis, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 9:34pm

    I actually like this idea

    There are many times when one might want to contact the owner of a car.
    eg. someone parked over your drive way and you can't get out, a car has been parked out the front of my house for 2 weeks and I want to know if the car is abandoned or stolen etc.

     

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  12.  
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    Not So Mindless American (profile), Dec 15th, 2006 @ 11:08pm

    Re: 11

    If its been there 2 weeks, why haven't you called the police and report it ABANDONED? It's not like the car is going to call the police and report itself as being abandoned.

     

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  13.  
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    Paul, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 11:36pm

    "If its been there 2 weeks, why haven't you called the police and report it ABANDONED? It's not like the car is going to call the police and report itself as being abandoned."

    Quoted for Truth.

     

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  14.  
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    Jeff, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 8:51am

    Again, WHINING

    Again a Techdirt author focuses only on the NEGATIVE and ends up sounding like a whiny b**** boy.

    People above have already mentioned potential positives. I include Jesse's idea of confirming it's reported/stolen. "Mindless American" I'd say is not a U.S. citizen but some f***tard putting down Americans, because obviously he or she's the mindless one. Jesse's idea is great BECAUSE the police are not involved!! Imagine, PEOPLE ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO SOLVE A PROBLEM THEMSELVES WITHOUT HAVING TO CALL THE POLICE. I know, such a concept is probably literally foreign to minds that live in socialist states where the government already provides everything for them -- including thinking.

    Other potential positives -- being able to message the idiot in front of you that has their turn signal on -- not a HEY F*** YOU BUDDY TURN OFF YOUR ANNOYING SIGNAL, but "hey 'scuze me, buddy, but your signal's on." Or better yet, a guy in a pickup truck is moving between apartments and has a buncha junk in the back, and something falls out -- you can message him and return it. The other day I saw a gal cut a corner too close and she did a "curb check" with the back wheel -- not realizing the impact popped off her wheel cover and sent it spinning into a ditch. I picked it up, and luckily since she was just turning into an entrance to a grocery, she didn't go far -- but if she had, it would have been nice to be able to text her through her plate. Sure I suppose I could have called the police to return it, but again, that's hoping the government fixes things for you, and around here, frankly, the police have better things they should be doing with their time.

    Carlo, you get some points for putting more than one link (unlike Mike's B.P.M.** session on the Canon article), but when getting the idea to quote previous Techdirt articles. But you're so biased and convinced this is a BAD idea that you only looked at Techdirt articles where stupid drivers without handsfree cell phones were being idiots and causing dangerous situations. You should have digged a little deeper past your angst and seen that there are a variety of other Techdirt articles that explore the "Guns don't kill people; People with guns kill people" line of thinking. It's not the technology that causes dangerous situations -- it's the morons mis-using the technology.

    (**B.P.M. -- slang for b***, p*** and moan)

     

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  15.  
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    BlackCow, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 11:30am

    @AMP

    "At the ripe old age of 35, maybe I am jsut too old to get the social networking thing, but this just seems like a stupid idea to me."

    At the young age of 16, I am just old enough to get the social networking thing, and I agree this idea is a VERY stupid idea.

     

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  16.  
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    Red Dog1, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 3:44pm

    Not a bad Idea if

    It came out with voice recognition

     

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  17.  
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    Lewis, Dec 16th, 2006 @ 8:42pm

    So here's a better idea

    Remember the CB radio days? (You have to be over 40)

    You buy a pre-paid cell phone, keep it in the car and post the number on the trunk.

    No texting and if you just did something stupid, don't answer. But if I see that you left you gas cap hanging, or don't have your lights on, I can call and let you know.

     

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  18.  
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    Ralph, Dec 17th, 2006 @ 7:01pm

    There are definitely some positive aspects of this project. I could list some of them, but I'd rather just say that I can imagine multiple scenarios in which I would like to contact people when the only information I have (or to which I have access) is their license plate number.

    It would also be interesting to have the ability to find information on an individual using their plate number without having to hack the DMV or paying for a background check. (Not that I would ever pay someone for something so trivial as a background check. Psh.) Imagine you see an attractive woman at the mall and you follow her to her car, get her plate numbers, then go home and find out what her name is, how old she is, where she lives, where she works, if she's single, and what her favorite color is, if she lives alone-- wait... this is turning into something negative. Never mind.

    My point is that this could be a good thing, but it has a lot of potential for bad as well (and I think the bad just might outweigh the good). Of course, everyone knows that this stuff will never catch on and we'll forget about it within a few months.

     

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  19.  
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    Chris, Dec 17th, 2006 @ 8:01pm

    RE: #14R

    "Again a Techdirt author focuses only on the NEGATIVE and ends up sounding like a whiny b**** boy."

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to think that TechDirt is a journalistic forum of sorts that should be providing unbiased reports, and not a blog. The authors can post an article and cast it in any light they please, as it's their service they're providing. The whole idea is to get people thinking about something. To give an opinion about a topic is the best way to generate debate, because someone will always disagree.

     

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  20.  
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    MOJO, Dec 18th, 2006 @ 12:03am

    For Sale Signs

    Don't know whether this happens anywhere else, but in Sydney (Australia) at least, many young drivers of "racer" type cars will put "For Sale" signs in their windows and then list their Cell phone numbers... they don't really want to sell their car they just want their rivals and any hot girls to know their mobile phone number and then they text or call to have a race or (with the hot girls) exchange some lubricants (for the car, I mean, for the car).

     

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  21.  
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    Dosquatch, Dec 18th, 2006 @ 8:23am

    Re: Again, WHINING

    "hey 'scuze me, buddy, but your signal's on."

    Or "you've got a headlight/taillight out". I've often thought it would be nice to have the ability to deliver messages like this to the drivers around me, but texting is not the vehicle for this, let alone trying to "social network" yourself into a date during rush hour.

    If delivering the message is any more difficult than pointing at a car and speaking a short message out loud*, it'll be a traffic hazard. (*- speech recognition and IRDA? maybe bluetooth?)

    OTOH, I don't know that I want a scrolling LED message board on my dash telling me what the drivers around me think of my lane changes... maybe cacheing messages for later review is a better idea.

    Either way, should such a thing come to pass, how long 'til the "|3uy v14Gr4" messages start showing up?

     

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  22.  
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    Mark Buckman, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 7:05pm

    PlateWire is in the game as well...

    PlateWire has recently received national attention and can claim over 55K members. This site is meant to create a voice for the road and allows its users to communicate using their license plate as an indentifier.

     

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  23.  
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    Pet Dragon, Jan 21st, 2007 @ 12:07am

    This has Darwin Award potential

    The only result is gonna be more crashes and more anger.

     

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  24.  
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    Chris, Feb 18th, 2007 @ 12:12am

    Re: Crashes

    Nah, you can do a voice memo for platewire.com or text message at aboveaveragedriver.com. Or do one of the old fashion ways of paper and pen...or a little high tech of voice recording to your MP3 recorder.

     

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  25.  
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    Hillary, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    talking

    hey whats up?

     

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  26.  
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    Kelly, Apr 17th, 2007 @ 4:41pm

    Platewire

    Hey, I checked that site, platewire, but it looks like there are only a few members that are truly active, sounds like they were hit with a spammer to up their numbers there...
    That one site that was mentioned too, aboveaveragedriver.com has great stats. They have been around for several years too and compete with another large one, roadragers.com...but that one seems not as active as the others.

     

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  27.  
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    BigT, May 3rd, 2007 @ 9:10am

    AboveAverageDriver.com

    Thanks Kelly. I checked these out, the first one you mentioned has lots of whiners on there and seems to be another wannabe site. There were tons of issues on that one from bad code to couldn't even log things.

    The other site is cool. I was looking for stats for class on aggressive driving and used aboveaveragedriver.com. I contacted the admin there and they were very helpful with giving out some of their records to help with class.

     

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  28.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Re: Eh....

    Hello, EH.... I must comment to your lack of computer literacy, and by not providing reasons as why you think the idea seems stupid, makes me believe you need to educate yourself on the use of computers in society.

     

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  29.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Re: Just what I want

    Joe, Joe, Joe, Are you one of those insecure guys who can't even handle the thought of someone looking at your wife in traffic?..... News Flash..... It will happen anyway, and if you have a good relationship with your wife you have nothing to worry about...

     

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  30.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Just What I Want

    Ron, finally someone who understands the concept... I also wanted to educate you on the subject as well, at www.yourplates.com and www.yourplates.mobi every License PLATE STATE® Is registered in the US and Canada. Whenever you decide to check your messages now or years for now, your messages will be waiting for you in our database!
    I am located in Las Vegas, and travel to Los Angeles frequently and man o man there are some really horrible drivers out there...

     

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  31.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 1:19pm

    Re:

    I am sorry you may have been mislead by other copyKat sites, but www.yourplates.com is a Free service, we do not charge you to send messages, that would be charged to you by the phone company IF YOU chose that option. As far as more road rage?????? Are you serious, and the death toll will rise? Well if you truly believe the statements you submitted, you are not very open minded. What about thanking people at your childs school for letting you out in traffic or starting a car pool, by messaging other people you see at your childs school to get it started. So it's not all negativity....

     

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  32.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    You can ;o) GOTO www.yourplates.com and communicate your PLATESTATE®. Every plate in the US and Canada is already registered and messages are stored for those plates even if it's a year later! check it out!

     

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  33.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Wise cell phone use, Phone numbers on cars

    Wow Curt I think you are the only person who can take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming technology for user ignorance! Kudos!

     

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  34.  
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    yourplates, Oct 30th, 2008 @ 1:28pm

    Re: I actually like this idea

    Sorry for all the nay sayers that commented you Jesse, yes this is a very good idea, and it's uses are endless! I have seen messages on www.yourplates.com where a person told another driver to move his vehicle or he was having it towed. So, your not the only one with that thought, this could also be useful to warn someone of a tail light out, gas cap door open,etc! Check it out!

     

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  35.  
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    Paula, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    How is it NOT social networking?

    First lets define social networking....
    A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friendship, kinship, dislike, conflict or trade. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network

    Ignorance of how License Plate messaging actually works only makes you "look stupid". To get the knowledge to understand your representations of the License Plate Based social network go to
    www.yourplates.com & www.yourplates.mobi

     

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  36.  
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    Thinking outside the box, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Wise cell phone use, Phone numbers on cars

    Maybe you should have a big sign on your car saying "I am self centered and have no life, so get out of my way". Everyone sees your plate anyway, or are you hiding it? Think about it, your obviously intelligent enough to not text and drive, you use a voice command service. Surely you have your local restaurants and groceries you visit, go green license plate message others locally adn set up a car pool, or parenting group. The outcome could be positive as well. concerned parents can be informed when their child uses the car and drive rescklessly, or hit curbs, basically draw attention to themselves. Please people negativity on a new communication breakthrough is plain silly.

     

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  37.  
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    holly, Jan 11th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Wise cell phone use, Phone numbers on cars

    hi

     

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  38.  
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    Alex, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:56am

    Pros

    There are going to be negative attributes to ANY social network. Think about the pros of safety. If you see someone with a break light out or a tire going flat, etc - you can tell them!

     

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  39.  
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    Rob, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 10:15am

    Just collect them.

    A much better idea is to collect license plates. You can find so many different reasons to do this. Find your favorite state, year or name from a designer's plate.

     

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