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'Number plate spray' a big no-no

THE GOVERNMENT has slammed a product that purports to help drivers beat speed cameras by hiding their number plates.

The spray, which has been sold in the US for about two years, appears to reflect the flashes of speed cameras so that it obscures the car registration in the photograph - but the plates can still be seen with the naked eye.

"It's like taking a picture of a mirror," said Dave Elsworth, a Cape Town-based software engineer, who began selling the spray paint through the Internet about five months ago.

Until now he has only marketed it in Cape Town through flyers and word of mouth.

But Wendy Watson, general manager of Land Transport Regulation at the Transport Department said the authorities regarded the spray paint as "totally illegal".

She said traffic officers would dish out fines for obstruction of justice to anyone found using it.

Elsworth said he was told the spray was not illegal because of a loophole in the law. He would stop selling it if it was made illegal, he said.

"The law doesn't say that your car has to be photogenic," he said.

The law states that no physical obstructions should be placed on registration plates and that the numbers should not be altered, Elsworth said, but not that you must ensure that speed cameras can take pictures of your plates.

But Watson said the very fact that it made car registrations un readable meant it was unlawful.

- Gill Moodie


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