The transport department is set to replace the current driver’s licence card with a new card, with new design features that comply with international standards.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Friday that the cabinet had approved the replacement of the current licence.
“The current driver’s licence card was introduced in 1998 and the production equipment was procured in the same year. The technology has become obsolete,” he said.
He said the department would publish the changes to the driver’s licence card in the government gazette.
The department will start the procurement process for the new production infrastructure next month and pilot the new card from November 1 until March 31 2024.
“The current driver’s licence card and the equipment used to produce it will be decommissioned on April 1 2024,” Mbalula said. “However, there will be a five-year period of transition from the old card to the new one. The current cards will continue to be recognised as valid until March 31 2029.”
Mbalula said the department had earlier committed to a review of the renewal period of the driver’s licence card.
The research was undertaken by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which also undertook a benchmarking exercise covering 64 countries.
The research revealed that countries ranked above SA according to the WHO, have an average driver’s licence card validity period of 9.3 years and countries ranked lower than SA average 4.4 years.
“It needs to be highlighted that many of the poorer road safety-ranked countries are still using paper-based driving licences, which would explain the lower average validity period in these countries,” he said.
He said the average card validity period of almost 10 years was applicable in developed countries, which had far better road safety ratios than SA. “This is an important factor in validating a longer renewal period in line with international best practice. Most of the EU countries have a five-year validity period for heavy vehicles.”
Mbalula said to date more than 2-million cards had been produced to address the backlog that had resulted from restrictions imposed after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the department had not only been able to reduce the turnaround time for card production to pre-Covid levels but had also improved on those levels.
“We have successfully reduced the waiting period for a driver’s licence card from 58 working days in April to 10 working days in July.”
About 1.2-million drivers are yet to renew their licences. He said this implied that there were a sizeable number of motorists driving without a valid licence on SA roads.
“This goes against our efforts to arrest carnage on our roads. One of the biggest contributors to this carnage is driver competence. We will up the ante in our law enforcement efforts to bring to book these wayward motorists who have no regard for the law or the safety of others on the road.”
The department has determined that 67% of those who have not renewed their driver’s licences are between the ages of 25 and 50 years, 15% between the ages of 50 and 60 years and 17% older than 60.
He said the most compliant group was of those 25 years and younger, who account for only 1% of drivers who have yet to renew their driving licences.
“Our investigations have revealed that the vast majority of those who are not renewing their licences have infringements,” he said.
Mbalula said they were introducing a smart enrolment solution to improve service to motorists and reduce turnaround times at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs).
The solution had been successfully piloted at the Waterfall and Eco-Park Centurion DLTCs and that Gauteng province would be the first to go live in March 2023 before full deployment to other provinces.