File picture: Bheki Radebe / Independent Newspapers.
File picture: Bheki Radebe / Independent Newspapers.

Driving licence renewal system is broken, and fines must be scrapped: AA

By Jason Woosey, Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 1, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Authorities need to put a moratorium on fining motorists with expired driving licences as a matter of urgency, the Automobile Association says, adding that steps also need to be taken to fix the current renewal process, which is quite clearly “broken”.

The association says it’s hugely concerned that police, who are already thinly stretched, are setting up roadblocks to catch motorists who are driving with expired licence cards and vehicle discs. Surely they should be aware of the difficulties motorists are facing in renewing these documents?

“The current 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.

“And, 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. We must be honest and admit that the current processes are, quite simply, shambolic,” the association added.

The AA also accuses authorities of focusing on soft targets, while more serious violations are not dealt with.

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

“It’s not news to anyone that the online booking system is not functional, that Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) are open erratically and under-staffed, and that online networks at DLTCs are also often down, all of which result in motorists being unable to renew their cards.

“The only people who don’t seem to acknowledge these issues are the authorities and it’s the motorists who ultimately suffer”.

The Association believes that the vast majority of South African motorists actually want to remain legally on the road, and thus go to great lengths to get their driving licences renewed. But, it asks, what must motorists who rely on their vehicles to earn an income do if they aren’t able to get these discs and cards renewed?

“Law abiding citizens with no alternatives must continue using their vehicles to work and are then punished because of a problem they didn’t cause, by the very authorities who did,” the association said.

It also suggested that third party agents should be given the go-ahead to renew driving licence cards to relieve some of the strain on the system.

IOL Motoring

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