License Plates and Mobiles


So I'm driving along on my morning commute and thinking about license plates. It seems to me that much of what makes drivers such morons or assholes (depending on if they're going slower or faster than you at the moment) is their anonymity. You can't cut in front of someone in line at the movie theater because they'll tap you on the shoulder and ask you what the hell you think you're doing, and if you ignore them, they'll go get an usher or something. But while you're on the way to work? Hell, you can cut off anyone you want. What are they going to do, go into road rage? Honk their horn? Like you can even hear them over your blaring radio.

Sound familiar? Not that I'm innocent of cutting people off, but I'm amazed at the morons on my current route. But it dawns on me that I have this mobile communication device sitting right next to me, *and* I have a globally unique identifier of the jerk in front of me: their license plate! Hmmm. What can we do with this?

I guess we could implement a "little brother" police state where we report minor infractions of drivers by SMSing plate number to a central database and have either the local government or, better yet, the insurance companies monitor it for excess reports. "I'm sorry, Mr. Beattie, but it says here you've gotten 43 Commuter Complaints this year, so we have to assume you're a crappy driver and raise your rates." The neat thing about this is that each *complainer* also has a unique identifier: their mobile phone number which is tagged to the SMS. So it's pretty easy to make sure you don't get excess complaints from one person (your neighbor's kids or something...).

That might be a bit heavy handed. How about just as a communication medium? There should be a site set up where people can register their plate number and mobile phone number. Now if you, say, leave your gas cap open, or your back wheel is wobbling and looks like it's going to fall off, the guy behind you can enter your license plate number and a message and the message then gets routed to your mobile phone?

Hmm. All of this is interesting, but now that I think about it, it's completely horribly dangerous to Text and Drive. So maybe this stuff would be better left to the passengers. How about just an updated game of the License Plate game you did when you were kids on long trips. (This may be just a New England game, since there's always lots of different state license plates up there...).

Anyways, I can imagine I'll be having more commuter thoughts as I continue to have an hour a day in the car to think about them. :-)


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