In 2024, the DVLA is planning to release a digital driving licence app. The new app can be used instead of a UK photocard or paper driving licence.
It won’t be compulsory for everyone to make the switch; drivers can choose whether or not to use the app, and can still use their photocard licences if they want to. However, the new app will replace provisional licences altogether for new drivers, which is something to keep in mind. Paper test certificates will also be a thing of the past, and will instead be accessed by using an online customer account.
Many tech-savvy drivers will welcome the news; after all, we tend to carry our phones with us everywhere we go. Some might remember that paper driving licences were scrapped in 1998, so it does seem as though a digital driving licence is the next logical step.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Twitter that the new app is hoped to make the UK transport network ‘fairer, greener and more efficient.’
There are also plans in the works to shift the UK away from paper MOT certificates and booking systems. Grant Shapps said that the Transport Department are working on ways to ‘[bring] MOTs into the modern age’ by moving the MOT process online, although there aren’t any concrete plans of how this will happen just yet.
The changes to provisional licences, test certificates and MOTs will basically be a test run for full UK driving licences. If it all goes smoothly, the DVLA will consider making driving licences digital across the board, meaning no more photocard licences, either. Until the 2024 changes come into play, however, we can’t say for sure if this is the case – although there are reports that say it’s probably going to happen.
Why is this happening?
The 2024 app won’t come as a surprise to many, as the UK seems to turn move away from plastic and paper every year. Take your local supermarket, for example. We can all remember the plastic bag charge coming on the scene in 2015. Shopping receipts aren’t as common as they used to be, either, thanks to the Paperless Pledge which most major supermarket chains signed in 2021. We know that driving licences aren’t the same as doing the weekly shop, but it’s a good indicator of the path the UK is on at the moment.
Could digital driving licences mean more phone theft?
There are some concerns that putting more personal data on our phones will cause more phone theft. We already have a lot of important information on our phones, such as banking apps and email passwords, so will adding a driving licence make phones more desirable for thieves?
Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding said that digital licences could do just that, saying digital licences could make phones ‘more tempting a target [for] thieves and hackers.’
If, when 2024 rolls around, you’re concerned about the risk to your mobile, there are a few ways to get around it: remote phone wiping is a useful tool to wipe the contents of your phone even if it isn’t in your hand, as well as having a fingerprint password or facial recognition in place so thieves can’t access it. Location trackers or apps such as ‘Find My Phone’ are also great ways of finding your phone if it goes missing.
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