The DVLA has announced plans to replace provisional driving licences with an app in 2024. The idea has been introduced in line with aims to create a ‘fairer, greener and more efficient’ transport network in the UK, as stated by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The DVLA will also be scrapping paper test certificates for those who have just gained their full licence, as well as introducing digital MOT certificates and booking systems. The online shift will be a treated as a test run for full driving licences and, if successful, will see full driving licences being replaced with a digital app, too. The changes won’t be surprising for many, as more and more companies are offering paperless and plastic-free alternatives.
Paper driving licences were scrapped in 1998, for example; charges were placed on plastic bags in 2015, and many chain supermarkets are even now offering receipt-less transactions after signing a ‘Paperless Pledge’. As more focus is placed on our environmental impact, a digital alternative to photocards could be the preferred option for many drivers.
What if I can’t use a digital driving licence?
If you’d prefer not to have your driving licence on your mobile when 2024 rolls around, there’s no need to worry. Although reports have shown it’s likely that full driving licences will go digital, photocards will still be available for those who want to use them for the foreseeable future. Simply continue using your physical driving licence as normal.
Could this cause a rise in mobile phone theft?
There are some concerns that digital licences will cause a rise in phone theft. Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented that ‘the risk is that the more personal data we store on our phones, the more tempting a target they become for thieves and hackers.’
The same problem was posed by the introduction of mobile banking, which has become increasingly popular over the past decade. As we put more personal data on our phones, there will always be the risk of cybercrime and theft. However, there are ways to combat this: remote phone wiping, fingerprint passwords and location trackers are all popular ways to keep your phone safe, and offer a reliable form of security if you do decide to get a digital licence in the future.
Will going digital help out the driving licence application backlog?
As we’ve mentioned recently, the DVLA are currently working through a hefty backlog of driving licence renewals. Staff shortages and COVID-related issues have meant the DVLA are unable to properly process the huge number of paper applications they’re receiving each day, causing significant delays to drivers who are applying for a renewal by post instead of online. At the moment, it’s predicted to have caused a delay of around 10 weeks.
Although the backlog will likely have been shifted by 2024 – we’d hope! – a digital licence alternative could certainly help lift some of the pressure off the DVLA in the future and prevent another backlog, which can only be good news.
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