Brussels Goes Barcoding Mad
Bad news for D3REK
The Department of Transport announced yesterday that the United Kingdom has until January 1st 2017 before introducing new Brussels legislation on barcodes for cars. It seems that number plate recognition systems have a high failure rate unless they are tuned exactly to the style and colour of number plate used in a particular country. As speed cameras proliferate across Europe, drivers are flouting the law with abandon outside their own countries. Future schemes for road charging will rely on a simple and effective number recognition system. The European Harmonisation Commission (EHC) has ruled that cars must carry a barcode registration recognisable by speed and toll charging cameras in all European countries. The new barcode will be about 70% larger than the current UK registration plate, which it replaces, and must be displayed on the front and rear of all vehicles. The codes will be pan-European, unchangeable and will last for the life of the vehicle. The barcode can be bent over curved surfaces to a reasonable degree, and for many vehicles can be retro-fitted easily. The Mayor of London has welcomed the move as an aid to enforcing congestion charges, and says that the barcodes will be easier for cameras to read, enabling the introduction of congestion charges across wider areas of the city.
Some manufacturers have expressed particular concern to the EHC, and Jaguar, with the curvaceous front on older vehicles, will be badly affected. A spokesperson said that it was a further example of EU madness. Environmental groups point out that the addition of a larger flat plate to the front of cars will impair aerodynamics and add to fuel costs. Mercedes-Benz are in favour of the plans, and will incorporate the barcode as an integral part of the vertical lines on the radiator grill of all new cars from 1st January 2017, though the Mercedes Owners Association complain that following accidental damage, new car-specific radiator grilles will need to be made, and will cost quadruple the present price.
Car dealers are up in arms, and British dealers fear a severe loss of business with the end of promotions based on the six monthly change of registration letters. An EHC representative pointed out that the month and year of manufacture will still be incorporated in the barcode. Alistair Grey of the British Motor Dealers Federation said, ‘This is insane! We can hardly say “Buy now and get the latest thick-thick-thin-thin-thin-thick barcode for July 2017!”’ It also means an end for personalized registration plates, which is bad news for the owners of D3REK, 5EXY, A11 NOB, P15 OF X, PR O5 PER and S1MON.
While some police forces are in favour of the new barcodes, other chief constables have expressed doubts. Police officers will be supplied with small barcode readers, but members of the public will no longer be able to report vehicles involved in crimes, unless of course they have a barcode reader of their own or very good eyesight so as to read the long line of small numbers below the barcode lines. Anti-European UKIP MP Hamish Jenkins has protested that the first part of the code on British cars will read EU-UK, ‘The barcodes are 15% longer than they need to be, and every one of us will have the European Union permanently advertised on these signs.’ The EHC replied that no one will be able to see that anyway. “But we’ll know,’ said Mr Jenkins bitterly.
The Daily News, London, 1st April 2016