Why Do Massachusetts License Plates Have Two Spiraling Lines on Them?
Massachusetts drivers tend to have a bad reputation, not quite as bad as New York drivers, but we're up there on the list. Let's just say the term Masshole didn't come out of left field.
In reality, Massachusetts drivers really aren't that bad, in fact, drivers in the Bay State didn't even crack the top ten states with the worst drivers. According to a study published by the law firm of Friend, Levinson, and Turner, LTD, and it finds Massachusetts is actually home to the second-best drivers in the country! Yes, seriously.
Despite Massachusetts drivers actually being some of the best in the country, we do receive our fair share of tickets. When it comes to speeding, Massachusetts State Troopers, not including local city and town police departments, issue over 120,000 speeding tickets a year, on average.
When each one of those tickets is written, the officer first has to run the plates of the vehicle, which provides information about the driver but also verifies the validity of the plates.
What Are the Two Silver Spiral Lines on Massachusetts License Plates
Have you ever noticed the two silver ribbon-like lines that are in the middle of Massachusetts license plates? They almost look like a double helix type shape, but they have nothing to do with DNA. They actually help Massachusetts law enforcement identify counterfeit license plates.
The technical name for the markings is "Ensure Virtual Security Thread". Developed by 3M, the threads use Retroreflective sheeting, a technology that consists of glass beads or microscopic prisms to return the light. Road signs have been coated with this sheeting for almost 100 years and license plates since the 1940s, according to WGBH. It’s the reason that signage and other plates appear to light up when your headlights hit them.
About 40 years ago, 3M started embedding new technology in the retroreflective sheeting for license plates to help prevent counterfeiting.
It essentially creates this floating image, which is what we call it. It's very easy for authorities to see, but it’s very difficult to simulate and counterfeit.
Global Business Manager for 3M's Vehicle Materials
26 states, including Massachusetts, use the security threads, while 44 state plates have at least a security stamp. Only six states, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Hampshire have no counterfeiting stamps, seals, or threads on their plates.
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Gallery Credit: Taylor Johnson