‘Eplates will prevent car theft’

PETALING JAYA: The eplate system with electronic number plates will not only ease congestion at toll plazas, but also curb vehicle theft, say experts.

However, such a system should not burden consumers and the installation cost should be borne by car manufacturers, they said.

“The government should engage with car manufacturers to work towards this.

“Having built-in chips in car plates will also increase the radio-frequency identification (RFID) device adoption rate,” said Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Assoc Prof Dr Law Teik Hua.

Dr Law, who heads the university’s Road Safety Research Centre (RSRC), said such eplates would improve enforcement measures as the authorities need only scan the plate at roadblocks to find out the owner’s details.

“It will make their duties (at roadblocks) easier, while reducing possible congestion.

“The chips in the plates will also be linked to the car registration system and cannot be changed, improving vehicle security,” he said.

One possible challenge, though, would be privacy concerns from potential data breaches.

“As the vehicles’ data (including travel history) will be stored in an online database, anyone with access to this will know where a vehicle has been to, especially if it crossed areas requiring RFID usage, such as toll plazas,” he said.

On Wednesday, former transport minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong suggested in the Dewan Rakyat that car registration plates with embedded RFID technology be implemented in Malaysia.

He said the measure could be implemented in phases.

In response, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the digital car plate would not be compulsory if introduced, adding that it might be gradually implemented in new vehicles.

Malaysia Road & Transportation Safety Association president Nik Mohd Salim said the use of the eplate system could curb instances of vehicle-related crimes.

“In some countries, toll gates will not open if the (number) plates and vehicle types do not match,” he said.

He added that eplates could also help authorities trace the location of a stolen car if it crossed areas that required the use of digital plates, like toll plazas.

He, too, said the prices of the plates should be affordable and not burden users.

“Eplates will also allow the nation to gradually move towards the MLFF toll system,” he said, referring to the multi-lane free flow toll system.

The MLFF is a barrier-free system that uses a gantry without designated booths or lanes, with toll collected using RFID devices that work together with an automated number plate recognition system.

Among neighbour countries, Indonesia is also moving towards the use of RFID-enabled licence plates, to ensure smoother traffic flow and for better enforcement.

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