Driving licence renewal problem in South Africa

The Automobile Association (AA) has called for a moratorium on fining motorists without renewed driving licences that must be implemented as a matter of urgency.

The organisation further asked for immediate steps to be taken to fix the current renewal processes.

According to the AA, the driver’s license renewal system was broken even before the lockdown began.

“Now, with thousands of anxious motorists struggling to renew their driving licence cards for a variety of reasons, the failures of the system are being exposed even more,” the AA said.

According to the AA, there are many problems which make it difficult for motorists to renew their licences. This includes:

  • The online booking system is not functional.
  • Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) are open erratically and under-staffed.
  • Online networks at DLTCs are also often down.

“What is most concerning is that there appears to be no acknowledgement of this by the authorities, nor of any attempts to assist the public.”

The AA is of particular concern that traffic law enforcement authorities are setting up roadblocks to ensnare motorists with expired driving licence cards and vehicle licence discs.

This, the AA said, is done even though they are aware that there are few avenues for motorists to actually renew these documents.

“It’s an absurd situation where motorists cannot renew their discs or cards and are then stopped and fined for not having done so,” it said.

In addition to calling for a moratorium on fines, the AA said it has now become more than critical that alternatives to the current renewals processes are implemented.

“Not only must third-party agents such as the AA be allowed to renew driving licence cards, but the current system needs a dramatic overhaul, and quickly,” it said.

Extend the validity of driving licences from 5 to 10 years

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has written to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, asking him to consider changing the driver’s license renewal process from 5 to 10 years.

“This should save the SA consumer and government time and money as well as improve the administration and manageability of the renewal process by the state,” OUTA said.

OUTA proposed the following to the Minister of Transport:

  1. That an extension for driver’s license renewal is applied from 5 to 10 years.
  2. The extension from 5 to 10 years applies between the ages of 18 to 65 years.
  3. That more efficient online application processes for driver’s license renewals precede the actual renewal, to allow for more effective service delivery and flow between appointment, eye test and licence delivery.
  4. Multiple methods for driver’s license renewal are made available through test centres and reputable service providers, i.e. stronger collaboration with neutral, third-party organisations such as the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA).
  5. That current restrictions applicable to Professional Driver’s Permits either remain the same, or are possibly extended as well, but that this decision be based on more extensive research and the inclusion of input from bussing and tourism role-players.

The AA supported OUTA’s proposal, provided motorists have their eyes tested by registered professionals at least every five years to ensure their vision is good enough to remain safe on the road.

It suggested that these eye tests are carried by motorists and presented to authorities when asked to do so.

Now read: New South African driving licence expiry dates explained

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Driving licence renewal problem in South Africa