The road to reflective: The story of New Jersey’s 1992 reflective plates – Part 2

In part one we began our look at the development of the 1992 passenger plates . Now we will take a look at how the final design developed.

The third meeting of the Reflectorized License Plate Selection Commission on May 9, 1990, had public testimony. The August 2, 1990 report of the commission mentions two interesting proposals.

The first was from Assemblyman D. Bennett Mazur of Fort Lee in Bergen County. He proposed a plate that would eliminate the traditional and mandated “Garden State” slogan with the more tourism friendly “Seashore State” slogan along with an image of a seagull in the center of the plate to help promote the state. The commission felt differently noting that the seagull image was distracting and made the plate’s serial number harder to read. The commission’s report stated the reason for the dismissal of Mazur’s proposal and states something that most other states seem to have chosen to ignore: “The purpose of a registration plate is for vehicle identification and distracting extras, such as the seagull silhouette, prevent quick and accurate identification of the vehicle.”

The second came from James Terry of Clifton in Passaic County. He came up with a plate of his own design which was rather complicated. Terry’s plates were translucent, but required the vehicle’s license plate illumination light to be placed behind the plate. The commission’s report noted: It was pointed out that P.L.1989, c.202 requires the issuance of a new registration plate wich is “fully treated with a reflectorized materieal designed to increase … nighttime visibility and legiblity.” Mr. Terry’s suggested plate would not meet the requirements of the law. In addtion, the effectiveness of Mr. Terry’s suggested plate depends on a working light bulb. Light bulbs, however, do not burn out or may be deliberately removed, thereby rendering this plate ineffective.

The final speaker that day was David Pointon, regional administator for 3M’ s Traffic Control Division. He discussed the methods of reflectoriztion including his company’s Scotchlite, presented a video of the plate production process in Minnesota and offered to the committee a company paper on license plate design considerations.

1990 Prototypes
1990 Prototypes

It was at this point the commission got closer to the final design. From their report:
After the speakers’ presentations, the members discussed the second set of sample plates developed atthe commission’s request. The members unanimously agreed that the new plate should be clear and uncluttered in design so as to be readily identified as a New Jersey plate and so that its alphanumeric sequence is accurately and easily read by day or night. Once again, a clear and uncluttered design was deemed necessary for law enforcement and highway safety purposes. The members also agreed that the plate should be aesthetically pleasing so that it projects a positive image of New Jersey.
Following a discussion of the features of the second set of samples, the members indicated a preference for the plate with a gradated yellow background fading to pale yellow, and the color green for the words “New Jersey” and “Garden State,” the symbol of the State, and the alphanumeric sequence. The commission named the background color “goldfinch yellow. ” It was noted that this plate was simple, but attractive,with a freshand distinctive appearance. The color and design of the plate was distinctive within the region, and possibly even the nation, so that it would readily identify New Jersey as the issuing state.

Continued in Part 3