City Desk

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Vainest of Them All? Virginia!

3gungalCare of the recently launched Book of Odds website – where you can learn the odds of just about anything, from having sex within an hour of bedtime (1 in 3.7) to choking on a non-food object (1 in 92,950) – comes the news that Virginia is the vainest state. At least as measured by the number of vanity plates.

There are some 9.3 million registered vehicles in the United States that have been “vanitized," according to Stefan Lonce, editor of the Montauk Sun on Long Island, who coined that term and who may know more about vanity plates than anyone on Earth. He actually went to the trouble of coming up with that number, with the help of the American Association of Motor Vehicles and lots and lots of DMVs. For good reason: He's writing a book called LCNS2ROM – LICENSE TO ROAM: VANITY LICENSE PLATES AND THE GR8 STORIES THEY TELL. (LCNS2ROM is Lonce's own vanity plate.)

His findings show that Virginia has the most vanity plates of any state: 1 in 6.18 registered cars there has one. That's 16 percent.

After Virginia, the vainest states are: New Hampshire (1 in 7.14); Illinois (1 in 7.45); Nevada (1 in 7.8); Montana (1 in 10.2); and Maine (1 in 10.21). Texas has the lowest percentage of vanity plates, with 1 in 178.3 cars, or just over half of 1 percent.

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Photo by Tobyotter, Creative Commons Attribution License

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  • Andrew

    This might be related to the cost of the vanity plates and the ease of getting them. Vanity plates in VA cost $10/year, and you can get them from the DMV's website. Maryland is $25/year, and Texas is $40/year.

  • Erika Niedowski

    Lonce says cost is indeed probably some of it, but he says it's not the only thing: Florida, for example, charges just $12, but the state ranks 32 in the vanity plate rankings (with just 2.7 percent of cars having them). “I think in some areas they reach a tipping point, where everyone is doing it because everyone else is doing it,” Lonce says.

  • Katy Benningfield

    North Carolina's vanity plates are 40 bucks unless you want a special place, such as your college or university, "vanitized". Then the cost doubles to eighty bucks and you only get 4 letters.

    The reason all of our cars are vanitized are for safety. If I go missing, I want them to put an easy-to-remember number plate on the air. I don't want it to be obscure.

    Others have said, I might be noticed for speeding more. So, I just obey the law, or within a few miles of it.

    If I have run out of gas on the freeway, I want my husband to easily find me. I don't worry about the bad guys. They better worry about me. I carry concealed.