Reflectorized License Plates: Do They Reduce Nighttime Rear-End Collisions?

Report No: 73-R32

Published in 1974

About the report:

The Commonwealth of Virginia randomly distributed 100,000 sets of experimental reflectorized and 100,000 sets of control nonreflective 1971 license plates, Each Division of Motor Vehicles distribution point in the state received and sold a pro rata number of each type. Plates were distributed evenly throughout each day of the distribution period. Accident data for the vehicles using experimental and control plates were collected for a 12-month period. These data were specifically coded and stored for retrieval by the Department of State Police. The reporting format distinguished between the striking vehicle and the vehicle struck. Reflectorized/control comparisons involved statewide data concerning nighttime and daytime accidents. The age of the driver, his driving experience, the age of the vehicle, and the weather conditions at the time of the crash were analyzed, as were data on fatal, personal injury, property damage, and total accidents. It was concluded that there was no statistically significant difference between the number of nighttime rear-end collisions of vehicles equipped with reflectorized license plates and that of vehicles equipped with control nonreflective license plates.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Charles B. Stoke

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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