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Which state has prettiest license plates? Not Delaware

8:22 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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WILMINGTON, Del. - Nearly half the respondents in a national survey called Delaware's license plate the least attractive in the country. And that's not sitting well with many in the First State.

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"Who cares what some guy in Texas says about Delaware?" said Mike Williams, chief of communications for the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

The survey, commissioned by Carinsurance.com, polled 2,000 licensed drivers across the country in the fall and asked them to choose the five most attractive and five least attractive standard-issue license plates among all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.  The number of surveyed adults were distributed proportionately in each region of the country and states were ranked on their total favorable votes, minus their unfavorable votes. 

Delaware was lumped into the southern region, represented by 740 respondents from almost 20 states, including Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma and Texas. It's unclear how many of those surveyed from the Southern region were from Delaware.The important thing to remember about the survey is that people were polled only on the main issue tag offered to every driver, Williams said.

Every state, including Delaware, has multiple options for which drivers can pay more. But 95% of the population doesn't, CarInsurance.com said. Delaware has a variety of special license plates, including ones with different color schemes, graphics and themes.

"Whether other people think it looks bad, or not as good as their home state, it's irrelevant," Williams said. "It's not a beauty contest. It's all about being able to be functional and acceptable.""It's not a beauty contest. It's all about being able to be functional and acceptable."

Delaware's gold and blue standard-issue plates have remained unchanged since about 1960 - so long that the original designers likely have died, he said.

Delaware license plate enthusiasts have gone online to support the design with some going as far to produce a video toasting the "metal masterpiece."  Since the survey results were released this week, the page to rank license plates has gotten a lot of Delaware traffic, said Des Toups, managing editor of CarInsurance.com.

"Certainly the reaction from Delaware had been much stronger than it has been from any other state," he said.  On the state's page on the website, 37% of Delaware residents surveyed said they liked the plate. The general survey is now open to the public.

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