Tuesday Open Line

Many automobile license plates proclaim glories of the issuing states. Others spell out something dear to the drivers but indecipherable to anyone else. Those plates and the more basic ones are requirements to drive on public roads. New York was the first state to require license plates on motor vehicles this month in 1901. At the time, there were just fewer than 15,000 sputtering automobiles in the entire country, traveling over muddy, rudimentary roads without a license for the driver or the automobile. Now, there are some 256 million cars, trucks, and buses in the nation, and all sporting license plates. The nation’s 46,000 automobile dealers issue temporary tags with new sales, and many happily add decorative frames for the permanent plates. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.