Masked license plates: Unreadable, ubiquitous

I am on the road a lot. Everyday I see a number of driving errors. 

Some minor, some irritating, and some where I have to make a defensive maneuver in order to avoid an accident. Aggressive passing, speeding, failing to yield or stop at signs, texting, happily doing a full loop in the outside lane of a roundabout … 

I see poor, inconsiderate, and dangerous driving every single day. I was on the Nationwide Stride the other Sunday, where 1,400 people walked or ran the 10k to benefit the Cancer Society. 

The sidewalks were packed with people as we were approaching Royal Palms. The walkers like myself crowded the sidewalks heading south, and the runners were already across the road making the return trek.  

The unmistakable roar of a small four-door Japanese import car accelerating down West Bay Road had the desired effect of its driver, and caused hundreds of people to stop in their tracks and take notice. Many turned and waved their arms frantically begging this madman to slow down as he hurtled down the center lane at well above the 40 miles per hour posted limit. As he roared past, I took a good look at the car with the intention of reporting the infraction and saw the embodiment of my personal pet peeve. The license plate protector.  

Dozens if not hundreds of vehicles here have installed a plastic protective cover on their license plates. 

When installed, you typically are unable to read the license numbers from a safe following distance. It is not unusual to pull up directly behind a car that has altered the protector and be totally unable to read the plate. 

What is the purpose of the camouflage other than a cloak of anonymity in the event the vehicle is seen breaking a traffic law, or worse the vehicle identified is being used in a crime? I cannot believe these protectors are legal. And if they are illegal, if I can spot a dozen a day easily, why are they being tolerated by law enforcement? 

Like window tint — Remember when we were taught to drive, not to enter an intersection unless you have eye contact with the other driver? — nothing seems to be done about these soft crimes.  

Maybe it just is not possible to stop and deal with such a minor issue as the Cayman police patrol their routes. In which case I would like to make a proposal. 

Treat window tint and plate covers the same way you would an illegally parked car. Pull over and give them a ticket. 

Better yet, assign a specific patrol (walking, bicycle, it does not need to be two people in a car) with a goal of stamping this out. Identify the offending vehicles while parked and unoccupied as to avoid confrontation, take a picture as proof, write a ticket for $25 and allow seven days for a mandatory full inspection at the government inspection facility. 

The fine goes to $100 if they don’t show up, still have a protector, or the tint installed does not pass the test.  

A quick look through any parking lot in Cayman, at any time of the day, and you will find these vehicles with the masked plates. 


Paul R. Storey