Driving licenses have evolved from a means of generating revenue to fund road infrastructure to become the proof of a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. As such they have become fundamental to ensuring public safety on roads. As underlined by the European Commission in January 2013: “fake driving licenses are a license to kill” and tackling fraud is central in improving road safety. The Governor of the US state of Connecticut summarized the challenge in May 2013: “It is about knowing who is entitled to drive on our roads and doing everything we can to make sure those drivers are safe and operating registered, insured vehicles”.
Driving licenses have also become a de facto document for personal identification in many countries. Governments are experiencing rising levels of these fake documents used to create fictitious identities enabling criminal activity in areas from welfare fraud, illegal immigration, drug trafficking to credit card fraud. Countries that have introduced new driving licenses over the past decade have added a range of additional visual and electronic security features in order to cut identity fraud and strengthen public confidence in personal identification documents.
Identification and accountability for better road safety
Continually evolving technology offers the opportunity to improve operational efficiency. Implementing a more secure driving license program can enable governments to radically rethink back office processes.The introduction of a chip-based driver & vehicle registration system in India has been the catalyst to move from paper-based systems to a faster and more efficient licensing process. For other countries, it’s a way to improve revenue collection through traffic fines management and more regular license renewal, to interconnect data between different state authorities and also private sector companies. In Mexico, closer cooperation between authorities and insurance firms is improving driver accountability. Technology can be harnessed in broader public education measures to develop a stronger sense of individual responsibility among drivers for safer and better-informed driving behaviors.
Gemalto contributes to India's smart card-based vehicle registration ID program.
Bringing eSolutions to the heartbeat of Mexico's economic development
Driving licenses play a fundamental role in law enforcement. Many license programs have set out to establish better interconnection and communication between police and other state agencies for more effective policing. The electronic driving licence and national vehicle registry introduced in El Salvador 15 years ago have helped create a highly integrated infrastructure linking the Ministry of the Interior, Transport, Police and Customs. In Estonia, every patrol car is equipped with a mobile workstation giving officers in the field near-instant access to verify information from databases including vehicle registration, traffic insurance and population registers, reducing queries to a matter of seconds and increasing by 1000% the number of driver and vehicle verifications per month.
El Salvador’s Smart Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration Card - [PDF
Also available in Spanish [PDF - 544kb]
Driving license programs are a way to develop a range of driving-related services (licensing, testing, penalty points management, retraining) that can be facilitated through better liaison between government agencies, and the private sector.
Technology is an enabler, modernizing the citizen experience in obtaining a license and interacting with state authorities either over-the-counter, on-line or in the field
The inclusion of an electronic chip on licenses not only reinforces public trust in the integrity of a document designed to prove identity and driving entitlement on the roads, but also opens up possibilities for use as a secure token to access e-government services. Applications can be stored on the card and activated later as use cases are put in place, saving on cost and deployment time. When a typical website visit can cost 15p compared to over a £8 for face-to-face meeting, e-services can represent a significant cost saving for governments as well as a faster and more convenient customer experience.
Today, driving license is used in many occasions as a proof of identity or other entitlements. The risks in terms of identity security and public safety are too great for countries to continue using insecure documents, in some cases based on a paper-based format defined in the middle of the last century. In these countries, there is a shared perception by authorities and their citizens that this situation is no longer acceptable.
Public awareness of driving – in terms of rights and responsibilities - will continue to evolve. In implementing new driver licensing programs, governments have a very real opportunity to shape the shared responsibility of state agencies, citizens in ensuring public safety on the roads.
The new wave of secure eDLs to come represents an opportunity for secure digital identification. The use of a secure, portable personal device for digital identity such a smart driving license, whether issued by the public authorities enables the citizen, consumer, or user to present their digital identity when and only when they choose to do so.