Jul 22, 2007

Rizal on a License Plate

Our new cluttered license plates. Click to see a bigger picture.The purpose of a license plate is to quickly identify the vehicle. This is why in most sane countries, license plates contain no other elements but letters and numbers, using clear, large font sizes.

In our country, some bright bureaucrat probably got a brainstorm and changed the design of our license plates into something more... "beautiful".

I am referring to the license plates that started appearing in about 2004 or thereabouts. You know, the ones that have the Rizal Monument in the middle and a blue or yellow sky in the background.

What's wrong with the design changes in the license plates?

The insertion of the phallic monument distracts the eye and introduces an unwelcome break at the center of the license number. So, let's say a car just ran over the mayor and good-samaritan you were trying to memorize the plates of the car -- say, XYZ 371 -- Rizal's monument now interrupts your flow of thought like so: "the car's license number is X-Y-Z -- uhm Rizal phallic symbol -- 3-7... what was that number again?"

On top of this, our bright bureaucrat also decided to emphasize the phrase "MATATAG NA REPUBLIKA", taking up more real estate in the plates. In other words, the font sizes of the license number now had to be decreased to accommodate the new line of text. The license number itself is now smaller and more difficult to read!

Finally, the blue or yellow background in the sky obscures the license number! These are such basic principles in design:
  • Provide good contrast between the background and the words, to improve readability!

  • In crowded spaces, omit everything but the most important information! (meaning, no distracting monuments, please!)

This, if ever, shows bad design taste or utter ignorance from our Land Transportation Office (LTO), from which the license plates originate. Just look at the stickers that LTO also produces. If you have a car, check the LTO registration sticker that you have to display on your windshield. The year "2007" is so small because LTO had to insert its logo. Plus its green font on a green background.

If you look at the other side of the sticker, you'll see more clutter. There is a long sentence and a slogan (something like, I AM A GOOD CITIZEN AND I KEEP INTERSECTIONS OPEN, and BY THE WAY, THE NAME OF THE CURRENT LTO CHIEF IS BLAHBLAHBLAH). You'll probably smash your car just reading the back of this sticker.

Photos by Data Canlas.

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