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Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Licence plate lockdown

Unlike UK licence plates, which belong to a particular car, Austrian plates are issued to an insured driver by the insurance companies on behalf of the government. They are yours, and can be used on up to three cars - you only pay an insurance premium for the most expensive. They clip and unclip from their mountings quite easily. But because they belong to the insured person, it is possible for each registration number to carry a residence-specific code portion, along with the wappen or arms of your Bundesland . If you move to a different Bezirk (think of it as about equivalent to a district council) you need to get a new licence plate.

A plate belonging to someone from Klagenfurt, in the state of Kärnten

If such a scheme were run in the UK, the first two letters of the licence plate would indicate your place of residence. For London, it would be a London shield symbol plus a borough code - say LA for Lambeth, WE for Westminster, BR for Bromley and so on. Any 'county lines' drug dealers here have a very hard time - but that's not all.

Country areas are naturally suspicious of outsiders even in good times, and the Wuhan virus has magnified mistrust of any vehicle with a 'foreign' licence plate - and by foreign, I mean a vehicle from a neighbouring district, never mind out-of-state vehicles or the Satanic chariots carrying the evil W for Vienna. Believe me, after a while non-local vehicles stick out like a sore thumb in the supermarket car park - and you can be sure if a car with plates bearing the shield of Tyrol and LA code that includes Ishgl, the seat of Austria's après-ski contagion, were spotted there the store doors would have been locked shut. 

I'm fascinated to learn how the locals will cope with the end-of-lockdown dilemna. They will be riven between mistrust of the outsider and the welcoming of the critical summer tourist Euros. It will be fun to watch. 

And second-homers in the UK can be very grateful for the anonymity of UK licence plates.


Andym said...

This second home owner has purchased a personalised number plate local to the second home - so we will be ostracised at our first home?

DJK said...

When cars were licenced by local authorities (before the centralising DVLC) there was a two letter code for area: HW for Bristol, IIRC.

Wildgoose said...

As DJK says, I always understood that cars were given a "local" registration. My home town of Rotherham had "ET", and the Mayoral car's number plate is "ET1" even now. I remember as a child my mother spotting the Sheffield number plates.

And the system, although changed, still exists.

Where Vehicle Registrations come from.

John Brown said...

Austrian car registration plates :

I presume there is strict control to ensure no duplicate plates are made ?

How is it checked that it is only used on a maximum of 3 cars ?

I presume a second plate is required if more than 3 cars will be driven?

For those people with 2 or more homes I presume it is possible to have a plate for each district ?

Since these plates can be clipped on and off easily from their mountings are they not stolen when criminals want to hide their car registration number ?

Dave_G said...

The key fact I take from this post is the insurance companies method of extracting the maximum from the vehicle owner. Per the UK method we pay for EACH VEHICLE whilst the more honest method would be to insure the DRIVER instead and allow them to use 'any' vehicle within the restraints of the policy (maybe based on value and/or power output).

The UK insurance industry is typical of the way this country is run though - as a cash cow for businesses.

I wonder if Austrian insurance companies would allow me to purchase cover for my cars based on my impeccable driving record, age and location rather than forking out TWICE as I do with the British insurers?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you and JPM are the same person?
You are both very negative about the UK.
My reservation is you seem paranoid that hidden dark forces are at work.
JPM calls them conservatives.

Raedwald said...

JB -

1. It's illegal to make plates or sell or own the machines for anyone other than the official contractors
2. Your 3 cars must be recorded and must all have MOTs. A lot of folks have a heavy winter car and a fun summer car. If you use your plates on another vehicle, you're obviously not insured
3.Yes - if you have more than 3 cars, or a second car for your partner, or a trailer or bike rack they must have separate plates. Also you can own an 'oldtimer' - cheap to insure, but can only be driven for 160 days a year. And no, no one knows except you.
4. Yes, plates are stolen - it takes less than a minute to unclip them - but owners are normally very quick to notice

It's very old fashioned and trusting over here - no CCTV, even in stores, no ANPR and everything is stuck in the 1970s, with branch offices and real people and lots of rubber stamps.

patently said...

@Dave_G - there are several insurers that offer family fleet policies, which take account of the fact that you're unlikely to be driving both cars at the same time. They work out a lot cheaper than insuring each car individually. A bit of shopping around does wonders...

@Raedwald - UK plates are a bit local, in that they reflect where the car was first registered. So I have one car that is WU** as the relevant local DVLA office was Wiltshire. Run-of-the-mill cars tend to stay nearby so I've often wondered why people don't react to cars with the "wrong" plate.

Span Ows said...

In Spain they changed for some reasons other than following EU orders. The old M and B plates (Madrid and Barcelona) were often attacked in "enemy territory". I had an M plate for 8 years living near Barcelona and never once had a problem, just many anecdotes form the locals.

Scrobs. said...

As a member of a village Speedwatch team, we know for certain that in the UK, (Kent, for us), there are several vehicles with the same number plate.

The DVLA and the local plod can keep tabs on them when the owners are active, through NRPN, but nothing really ever happens.

Far too many people getting within 6'8" of each other for the police to get involved in car crime.

Billy Marlene said...

Five days before the lockdown I took delivery of a very expensive VW Campervan (not a ‘Great White’ motorhome).

Not only was I grounded but I became aware that in any place remotely attractive (even the most remote of all remote places) I would be regarded as the spawn of the devil. Stories circulated of paint attacks and arson.

So, with great reluctance I have invested a few quid for window stickers to be worn, interchangeable, on my tailgate rear window.

As well as my resident Suffolk crest I have:

Devon (to cover the SW). My son is at school in Tiverton.
Anglesey (to cover Wales). I used to live in Beaumaris.
Scotland (as I need to get to Shetland).That one really hurt.

Finally, if any Kernowian, VietTaff or Braveheart touches my van I shall torch their house and machine gun their children as they jump out of the windows.

What a state to be in.

Anonymous said...

Where's your Brexit gang when you need 'em @Raedwald?

Only 150 people have taken up the Pick for Britain offer.

Bette send the call out to Clacton!

Billy Marlene said...

Probably because it was an ill conceived idea.

From Farmers Weekly:

‘The main barriers to people accepting roles were the length of contract, farms being too far away from their homes, not wanting to travel/commute, care responsibilities that prevent full-time work or the desire to only work part-time.’

No wonder the conversion rate from application to offer is so low.

Nothing to do with Brexit altruism, or Coronavirus. A simple cock up.

As an NHS Volunteer Responder I have been continuously on duty for over three weeks with not one call.

How are you going to spin the blame for that then?

Span Ows said...

Anonymous 05:37 Fake news. I happen to know several compnies overwhelmed with support and volunteers and passing the extras on.

Span Ows said...

Billy 09:40, that number is probably just one disgruntled owner, and going by form, probably a Labour activist, Remain-voting, Corbyn-loving Tory-hating shit-for-brains.

Anonymous said...

@Span Ows - could it be that Brexiters are workshy?

Span Ows said...

Anon 15:33

"could it be that Brexiters are workshy?"

Did you read my responses? Quite the opposite; That said, I would bet money that there are SOME such Brexiteers, a tiny minority; Remainers the same.