Charles Ball thinks he has an answer to road rage in Boston: a Smiley license plate. After all, who would cut off someone with a bright, yellow smiley face on their backside?

The "Smiley Plate," based on Worcester artist Harvey Ball's 1963 creation, is one of 10 concepts for specialty plates that Governor Mitt Romney signed into law Wednesday.

"We're going to eliminate road rage for all time," said Charles Ball, who is the artist's son. "It brings with it a sense of obligation."

The governor's approval does not guarantee that every design will appear on a plate. It just allows groups to seek final approval from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Each group must meet various requirements, including finding 1,500 buyers up-front and delivering an additional 1,500 customers within two years, according to the Registry.

The groups' plates would sell for $81, $40 more than a plain, white plate. The extra fee supports the causes behind the designs: firefighters, public education, youth baseball, and diabetes research.

Ball, who heads the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation, plans to use Smiley Plate money to offer grants to teachers who "may just need a few hundred dollars" for a project.

But will a smiley plate sell in Massachusetts, given the woes a plate with a smiling sun faced in a southern state?

Some disgruntled Kentucky drivers have opted for specialty license plates instead of their state's official plate, which has a tiny smiley face and yellow rays poking up behind the license numbers.

Ball agrees that Kentucky's plate isn't that hot. "It's like a fake smiley face," he said of the timid little sun. But he says he can't fathom why anyone would oppose a smile

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