Every new year brings new cars, new prices and new social trends. Another thing that a new year brings is a new license plate, denoting the current year.
However, as we are now in 2013, there has been more of a focus on the number on the plate this year, with those of a superstition nature expressing concern over the number ’13’ that will appear on new license plates.
Although this may not be understood by some, the move to number ’13’ license plates has been causing some controversy in certain circles over the past few months, with the change coming to effect in March of this year.
The number 13 is considered to be an unlucky number in some countries, now synonymous with the ‘unluckiest day of the month’: Friday 13th.
Although some may scoff at the idea of a number being unlucky, there is now a recognised phobia for those who fear the number, called ‘Triskaidekaphobia’. The superstitious suffers of this phobia try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled ‘thirteen’.
Early last year, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) considering offering new car buyers, who found the number 13 to be unlucky, continued access to the previous ’62’ plates but dropped the idea not long afterwards.
Also last year, UK motoring breakdown cover provider, the AA, conducted a survey with 20,029 of its members, asking how they felt about the upcoming switch to ’13’ numbered license plates.
Out of the 20,029 members who were surveyed, approximately one in ten said that they would not buy a car with a number 13 registration plate – evidently suffering from the aforementioned ‘Triskaidekaphobia’.
The AA survey also found that, whilst the superstitious one in ten would not buy an ‘unlucky number’ license plate, a majority sixty-six percent of members would not shy away from owning number plates like ‘MY13 HEX’ and ‘SP13 OOK’.
In addition, one third of the surveyed members stated that the reason they would think twice about buying a new car with the 13 number plate is not because they fear it is bad luck, but that they fear trying to sell them on in the future.
Although some buyers may not have a fear of the supposedly unlucky number, that is not to say that the potential buyers of their vehicles share the same rational thought.
Four percent of the survey respondents firmly believe and twenty-five somewhat believe that trying to sell a car with a ’13’ plate is where the ’13-plate’ hoodoo is most likely to happen.
The concern rises to thirty-three percent amongst AA members who are aged 65 and above, whereas only twenty percent of younger drivers, aged between 18-24, consider it to be a problem.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, commented: ‘Number plate superstition sounds silly but once they encounter a series of mishaps, new owners may begin to wonder.’
He further added: ‘The flip side is that they drive more carefully and look after the car better.’
Also commenting on the controversy was Dr Janet Goodall, a research fellow in education at Warwick University, who has written on superstition, who stated: ‘They might decide that 13 is OK if the colour was considered to bring good fortune.’
Dr Goodall mused: ‘If I was a car manufacturer I would be painting cars colours which are considered to be lucky.’
Attempting to alleviate the fears of the superstitious buyers, the DVLA have suggested two options for avoiding owning a new car with an ‘unlucky 13’ license plate.
Firstly, motorists can transfer the number plate from their old car to their new vehicle, for a fee of just £80. Perhaps another superstition they have is to keep the same number plate? In which case, this would take two birds with one stone.
An alternative option is to offer motorists the opportunity to purchase a personalised, ‘cherished’ number plate, which can be available from the DVLA from as little as £200.
Although you must ask yourself: is it worth paying the extra money just because of a superstition?
Or you can just wait until September when the ’63’ plates will be available on all new cars.
No matter whether you are superstitious, non-superstitious or just plain don’t care about the fiasco, it will be interesting to see the sales volume of ’13’ plated new cars in relation to the sales figures for new cars with a ’12’ or ’62’ license plate.