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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 11°C
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# driving for change
Physical driving licence could become 'history' as EU proposes digital option
This digital licence is expected to allow drivers to replace, renew or exchange a licence easier.

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has today presented proposals which seek to modernise driving licence rules, including the introduction of a new digital driving licence valid throughout the EU.

The EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean this morning outlined the advantages of a digital driving licence, but stressed that drivers would still have the option of a physical version.  

“One of the directives adopted today will make the small piece of plastic history. In the not so distant future, your driver’s licence will be on your phone or any other digital device, although you will be able to request a physical version if you prefer,” she said.

“Especially for the younger generations, the digital licence is a question of personal convenience. The directive will also simplify and lighten the administrative burden involved in processing a physical licence.”

It will also be faster for citizens from non-EU countries with comparable road safety standards to the EU, to exchange their driving licence for an EU one.

The Commission’s package also includes new road safety rules to help the EU achieve its “Vision Zero” target of no deaths on EU roads by 2050.

In 2022, more than 20,000 lives were lost on EU roads and the majority of victims were pedestrians, cyclists and users of scooters and motorbikes.

One of the proposed amendments to EU law would be the introduction of a probation period of at least two years for novice drivers after passing the test, and a zero-tolerance rule on drink-driving. 

Another proposal would allow young people to take their test and begin driving lorries and cars while accompanied from the age of 17 in order to gain driving experience.

Those who pass at 17 will be able to drive alone from their 18th birthday, and to work as a professional driver as soon as their specific job allows.

Testing rules for drivers would also be updated to take into account the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

This would assess the knowledge and skills linked to advanced driving assistance systems and other automated technologies.

Novice drivers would also be taught how their driving style has an impact on their emissions.

The permitted mass of a ‘B’ category vehicle would also be adjusted in order to allow battery-carrying zero-emission vehicles to be heavier.

The proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament and the European Council.

Clarification: An earlier version of this article repeated a claim from the European Commission that this would be the world’s first digital licence. This is not correct. Brazil introduced its digital licence in 2017, as one example. 

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