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Province 'looking into' reports that new licence plates are difficult to read at night
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, February 17, 2020 1:35PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 17, 2020 11:17PM EST
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services says that it is “looking into” concerns that have been raised about the readability of Ontario’s new licence plates when it is dark out.
The new plates, which feature a blue background with white lettering, were announced during the province’s budget last spring but only became available to drivers earlier this month.
Since then a number of people have taken to social media to post images in which the new plates appear difficult and almost impossible to read.
One such image, posted to Twitter by Kingston police Sgt. Steve Koopman on Saturday night, shows a vehicle with one of the new plates in a parking lot. The first two letters in the plate can be made out but the remaining four are not entirely clear.
“Ok, this was taken off duty in a relatively well-lit parking lot with my headlights on,” Koopman said in a message accompanying the image, which has since been retweeted more than 1,400 times. “Did anyone consult with police before designing and manufacturing the new Ontario licence plates? They’re virtually unreadable at night.”
When the new plates first became available on Feb. 1, the province said that they featured “high definition sheeting that is stronger and longer lasting” than the materials used in older plates.
As a result, the province said that it would be able to guarantee that the plates “won’t peel or flake,” which was a problem with previous models.
Has anyone else noticed that the newly designed @ONgov license plates are totally unreadable from distance at night? Submitted screen grab taken from a 1080P dash camera. Could be an issue for GTA police forces in the future. pic.twitter.com/EN4hvoTYBL— Andrew Collins (@ACollinsPhoto) February 15, 2020
In a statement issued to CP24 on Monday, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services said that it did consult with key stakeholders, including law enforcement partners, to “test the readability, reflectivity and functionality” of the new plates.
The statement notes that the plates were tested “using advanced plate reader technology under multiple visibility conditions” and were successfully read in every instance.
The ministry, however, says that it will take the concerns about the visibility of the plates to the naked eye seriously.
“We have been made aware that some Ontarians are reporting concerns with readability to the naked-eye under certain light conditions,” the statement reads. “We take this feedback seriously, value the input of Ontario drivers and law enforcement stakeholders and are currently looking into this.”
‘Let’s hope it is not too late to put the genie back in the bottle’
Drivers aren’t required to switch to the new plates but as of Feb. 1 anyone replacing an existing plate or registering their vehicle for the first time will get them.
Speaking with CP24 on Monday, former Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis said that something “clearly fell through the cracks” with the design and testing of the new plates.
He said that the province should stop issuing them while it looks into and addresses the issue.
“I know the Ontario government hasn’t released them in the millions. It is sort of a staged process so let’s hope it is not too late to put the genie back in the bottle here. Stop it right now, and reissue plates that are acceptable,” he said.
CP24 did reach out to the Toronto Police Service on Monday; however they declined to comment about the readability of the new plates.
The head of the union representing Toronto’s frontline officers, meanwhile, told CP24 that he has not been made aware of any issues with the new plates.
A Peel Regional Police spokesperson also told CTV News Toronto that “there hasn’t been much (officer) feedback in relation to issues with the plates just yet,” though they pointed out that “it’s only been a couple weeks.”
Someone was tweeting about the new Ontario License plates and how you cant see them at night. Its true! I Took this photo today... Proof that @fordnation sucks at this “improving” Ontario thing. pic.twitter.com/Sgyn7dgf7j— Heba Mousa (@hebamousa83) February 17, 2020