Monday, August 22, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today led an interagency coalition in unveiling the design for Oklahoma’s new state license plate, titled “Explore Oklahoma.” The new plate depicts Oklahoma’s state bird, a scissor-tailed flycatcher, soaring over lakes, mountains and mesas, highlighting Oklahoma’s diverse ecology and natural beauty.
The new plates will prominently display the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation’s website, TravelOK.com, and feature two distinct, more visible boxes for registration decals (displaying month and year separately). They will be printed on prismatic sheeting, enhancing their visibility at night.
Drivers will receive their new license plates beginning in January 2017.
“The new design will act as a travelling billboard for those looking to experience and explore our beautiful state,” said Fallin. “Just as important, the new plates are more clearly visible at night and will aid our law enforcement officers as they work to keep us safe.”
Oklahoma’s previous plates – which were more than seven years old – were past warranty and beginning to deteriorate, dulling the reflective sheeting on them and making them more difficult to see at night.
The Oklahoma Safety Council and the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police had spoken out during this year’s legislative session about the importance of more visible license plates, which are used by law enforcement officers to locate suspected felons and respond to Amber and Silver Alerts. Many states issue new license plates every five years for those reasons. (Read: “FOP: Aging license plates putting police in danger;” “Safety advocate: Oklahoma could use new license plates”)
“When a state trooper pulls someone over, the first thing that trooper does is run the license plate,” said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Ricky Adams. “That’s how we alert our dispatchers that we are on a stop and get our first clue of a potentially dangerous situation. The ability to quickly see and easily read a tag number in bad weather or low light conditions is of paramount importance to law enforcement.”
State officials also spoke about the importance of the new license plates in increasing compliance with insurance and registration laws. All drivers must acquire a new plate by the end of 2017 and show proof of both insurance and vehicle registration.
“Oklahoma has the unfortunate distinction of being a national leader in uninsured motorists,” said Insurance Commissioner John Doak. “That phenomenon makes our roads less safe and is unfair to the majority of Oklahomans who comply with the law and drive responsibly. A license plate reissue is a responsible and reliable way of increasing the number of drivers with insurance.”
Oklahoma Tax Commissioner Dawn Cash said the state would also gain from increasing registration compliance.
“The Tax Commission estimates that the state is owed approximately $4 million from thousands of Oklahomans who are out of compliance and failed to pay their registration fees last year,” Cash said. “Not only is that unfair to the Oklahomans who are following the law and registering their vehicles, it also significantly diminishes revenue going to public schools, local governments and other priority needs. New license plates will help us reduce non-compliance and enforce the rules of the road.”
Department of Tourism and Recreation Executive Director Dick Dutton said the new plates would help spur Oklahoma’s tourism industry.
“Tourism in Oklahoma is an $8.9 billion industry that supports approximately 95,400 jobs and generates $2 billion in payroll,” said Dutton. “Our new plates will help increase traffic at TravelOK.com and act as another great marketing tool for the state.”
New plates were authorized by House Bill 3208, authored by Rep. Earl Sears and Sen. Clark Jolley.