White and Yellow Number Plates: From the UK perspective

Numerous countries across the world have different specifications and rules to be followed by the vehicle owner for number plates. In most countries, this comes under the preview of...

Numerous countries across the world have different specifications and rules to be followed by the vehicle owner for number plates. In most countries, this comes under the preview of the traffic administration. It is mandatory to follow the law of the land. If you try to violate the norms of color codes or fonts as laid down by the administration or put any number plate of your liking, then you can be held guilty of violating the traffic laws. The idea behind possessing a color code or font size is to have a uniform number of plates that are visible when required. Very often during inclement weather or dark, a multi-colored number plate is not visible.

In France, the number plates are in black and white while in Australia people use multi-colored number plates. Again, in the United States, the private number plates display symbols, colors, or slogans that are popularly called ‘Vanity Plates.’ In the UK the number of plates must be in yellow and white. However, there are a few exceptions. We shall discuss them as we move forward.

White and Yellow number plates in the UK:

The owner of a vehicle in the UK will have to enter on an official vehicle register, according to the Motor Car Act 1903, that was implemented officially on January 1, 1904. It is mandatory to include alphanumeric plates used to display the registration mark of a vehicle. The number plates in the UK are rectangular or square in shape. The front number plate should be in white and the rear plate in yellow. Earlier, the number of plates in the UK retained white, grey or silver characters on a black background. In 1972, the existing private number plates were phased out.

Why Yellow at rear number plates in the UK?

The question repeatedly asked is why use yellow color has been used in the rear private registration plates when the combination of white and black is considered to be the best as far as visibility is concerned. According to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the reason behind using a white number plate at the front and yellow at the rear is to help other drivers and people spot the direction of the vehicle. They will be able to differentiate between the front and back easily especially when the visibility is poor due to inclement weather. It will help to avert road accidents.

How does the color code help?

Not only during inclement weather or poor street lights but having different number plates at the front and back has its own advantages. Let’s perceive this with an example – Suppose a car mows down a passer-by leaving him or her to die on the road and try to escape the scene of the crime. It will be easy for the police or people to read the number plate even from a distance or when the vehicle is in motion if there is a standard pattern of the private number plate (color code and font), otherwise it may take longer to read the number plate allowing the offender ample time to run away scot-free. However, there are two systems within the UK itself – The system or style followed in Great Britain dates from 2001 while Northern Ireland follows the 1904 system.

Exceptions from using white and yellow plates:

Using the white and yellow number plates is mandatory for conventional vehicles. All vehicles in the UK must have a white plate made of reflective material at the front with characters in black and yellow number plate at back with black characters. However, there are some exceptions. The UK military vehicles are not required to utilize the reflective material on their black and white number plates as the reflective may help their enemies to find them as soft targets. Identically, the vehicles regarded classics by the DVLA, are allowed to use the old-styled registration number plates. They sport plates black in color with index marks in either white or silver. Apart from these, those vehicles that are 40 years old or above, are also allowed to use the old-style number that looks different from the customarily used white and yellow number plates.

Therefore, having a standard private registration number plate is always recommended as you can always locate the number plate in need and as discussed above it helps immensely during an emergency.

Number Plates
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