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More concerns raised about visibility of new Ontario licence plates

Last Updated Feb 17, 2020 at 8:02 pm EDT

Ontario’s new licence plates hit the roads on Feb. 1 and residents have been voicing their opinions about the design from day one.

One of the main concerns being raised is the colours of the new plates and their visibility at night.

To highlight the issue, a Toronto woman tweeted a video last week comparing two cars in a parking lot — one with the old plates and the other with the new ones.

Angela Valdez tells CityNews she was discussing the new licence plates with her friends and decided to look for them when she was out driving one night, to see any possible problems for herself.

“When you’re within a certain distance, you can’t see it,” she says. “Even when you’re right behind it, you can’t read the licence plate … I think because it’s flat, the colour scheme is just so off — it has this silvery blue hue — you can’t read it at all.”

Valdez added that the old plates with blue letters on a white background had better contrast and the raised letters helped make them more readable, as compared to the flat, white letters on a blue background on the new plates.

She also raised concerns about drivers being able to report suspicious or dangerous behaviour on the roads by fellow drivers who may have the new plates.

“Lets say that if … you see somebody you suspect is drunk driving, or you see them doing something completely illegal — you wouldn’t be able to report it … you wouldn’t be able to make out the plate,” she says, adding that she’s surprised the plates were approved and these potential problems weren’t caught before they were released.

A recent tweet by a Kingston police officer also pointed out the same problems.

Sgt. Steve Koopman posted a photo of a car with a new licence plate in what he called a “well lit parking lot” and called it “virtually unreadable at night,” questioning whether police were consulted before they went into production.

Questions were also raised about whether cameras on toll routes like the 407 ETR would be able to read the new licence plates.

A spokesperson for the highway tells CityNews they have seen some of the new plates and can read them “just fine.”

“We are always updating our technology and calibrating our cameras and equipment and working with the province during such changes,” said Kevin Sack, Vice President, marketing, communications & government relations for 407 ETR.

CityNews also reached out to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for comment on the issues raised by Sgt. Koopman, Valdez and others online.

A spokesperson for the ministry said the government did consult with law enforcement and key stakeholders to “test the readability, reflectivity and functionality of the new high definition plate design.”

“Ontario’s new high definition licence plates were tested using advanced plate reader technology under multiple visibility conditions, and plates were successfully read under those conditions,” says Nicko Vavassis, issues manager and press secretary for the ministry.

He added that they have been made aware of concerns from Ontarians regarding “readability to the naked-eye under certain light conditions.”

“We take this feedback seriously, value the input of Ontario drivers and law enforcement stakeholders and are currently looking into this,” he said.

Watch below: Online reaction to Ontario’s new licence plates