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The announcement of the extension of the validity of all driving licences which expired between 26 March and 31 December 2020 to the end of August 2021 is welcome and necessary. The Automobile Association (AA) says this is the right move given the current circumstances around renewals, and not wholly unexpected.

The Department of Transport earlier today announced that the validity of learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary license cards and professional driving permits which expired in the period from 26 March 2020 (the date of the start of the first national lockdown) to 31 December 2020 will be extended until 31 August 2021.

“When we first campaigned for extensions we cautioned that any leeway of just a few months – as was the case originally – would only be a temporary fix and that a longer-term solution is necessary. This new extension is the right move but it is, in our view, still a temporary fix to a bigger problem,” notes the AA.

The Association says government must use the time between now and the end of August 2021 to relook at the current model of issuing and renewing licences with a view to providing a more streamlined and more efficient system to users.

“The current system, as we have noted before, is in a shambles and needs a complete reworking and possibly even replacement. The backlogs now were not caused by COVID-19 but the issues around coronavirus certainly exacerbated the problems. If we come to the end of August next year and nothing significant changes from today, we will be back to square one in no time. We urge government to use this time wisely to fix a system which is, for all intents and purposes, broken,” says the AA.

Apart from urging government to replace the entirety of the issuing and renewals system, the AA says government must look at consulting more widely with outside agencies with a view to potential private/public partnerships to improve efficiencies.

The AA says this move by government is also the opportune time to consider the previous suggestions of extending the validity of driving licence cards from the current five years to ten years.

While the extension is good news for many, the AA says motorists must not wait until next year before renewing their cards.

“Even though there is a long way to go to the end of August 2021, motorists should continue trying to renew their cards, and attempt to remain legally on the road. The extension should not be seen as an opportunity to get away with non-renewals; leaving it too late will eventually catch up with them,” the association says.

In addition, the AA says the extension of the cards must be communicated to all traffic authorities around the country to ensure no motorist is penalised for non-renewal.


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