New driving licence failures expose folly of new system, says IMPACT

Wednesday 13th November 2013

Confirmation that drivers using the Road Safety Authority (RSA) driving licence website have been victims of data breaches is further evidence of the folly of abandoning a high quality locally-based system of applying for and renewing driving licences, according to IMPACT trade union.

IMPACT said more shortcomings were likely to emerge from this month’s centralisation of the service, most especially because drivers could no longer make written applications for a licence. Unlike in the former local authority service, members of the public now have to go in person to a National Driver Licence Centre (NDLS) to apply for or renew a licence. The RSA admits that drivers will now have to travel up to 50 kilometres – sometimes further – to get a licence.

IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan said local authorities had provided an excellent service prior to the transfer to a national system, which is fronted by the RSA but largely provided by private contractors. He called on the RSA to clear up the mess over data breaches and guarantee that no further breaches would occur. “From the outset, IMPACT members have been concerned that centralising a local and efficient service is bad news for motorists.  This is further evidence that the centralisation of driving licence renewals and applications will mean a worse service with more inconvenience for people trying to apply for, or renew, a driving licence,” he said.

Mr Nolan has written to the RSA’s interim CEO to say that IMPACT members would no longer assist the RSA with public queries after the authority blamed local authorities in the media for its own shortcomings. “Our members are rightly incensed that a representative of your organisation inferred that [under the previous local authority system] people were experiencing delays of up to 60 days. At best this was misinformed, at worst it was deliberate misrepresentation. Local authorities have recorded substantial satisfaction ratings for their driver licence service.  Most local authorities turned around driver licence applications significantly below the seven day target performance indicator for the service,” he wrote.

Hitherto, local authority staff have fully cooperated with the establishment of the new system despite opposing the move to centralise the service.