Harmonising Driver Licensing

Austroads project SRL2076 Opportunities for Driver Licence Harmonisation was established to progress Austroads’ key strategic priority in national policy harmonisation. In 2015 the Austroads Registration and Licensing Task Force adopted a strategic objective, later endorsed by the Austroads Board, to examine options for driver licence harmonisation. Resolutions of the Transport and Infrastructure Council in November 2015, and again in August 2016, endorsed the principle of a single national Australian driver licence to be issued by all jurisdictions, and sought advice from Austroads on options that might be pursued.

The project scope identified three work streams.

  1. the layout and data for a nationally consistent driver licence card including e-licences/digital licences
  2. standard application for implementation of an electronic learner log book for learner drivers
  3. a best practice framework supporting the development of national content for entry level (novice) driver and rider knowledge tests that are deliverable in written and electronic format.

The first stage of the project included:

  • Desktop research reviewing relevant Austroads reports and documents, internet-based desktop research on each of the work streams focussing on experiences in the USA, Canada and the EU referencing and grounding the recommendations.
  • Agency survey and consultations using three detailed survey instruments, one relating to each project work stream, circulated to Austroads state and territory members to provide a national picture of regulation, policy and practice in each area of enquiry.
  • Analysis and opportunities for reform providing an analysis of the data, consideration of issues raised in the desktop reviews and discussions with stakeholders, in each of the three areas of interest, along with options for reform and an outline road map for their achievement.

Acknowledging the complexity of this area of policy and regulation, the project provides a context, reference and grounding for recommendations for consideration rather than delivery of a conclusive direction.

Summary Recommendations

The first stage of the project has been completed and recommends for consideration a future work program of opportunities to harmonise driver licence policy and practice.

Driver Licence Harmonisation

Two potential pathways to driver licence harmonisation have been recommended for consideration:

  • a template national driver licence card. (A simple and achievable means of harmonising driver licences based around adoption of an identifiably Australian design issued by identified individual jurisdictions.)
  • a process encouraging a broader approach to policy convergence which could achieve a national framework for driver licensing. (The framework would extend beyond the current National Driver Licensing System, while maintaining jurisdictional discretion in matters of local variation. It does not propose the development of a single national driver licence register or managing system.)

Digital Licence

While digital licence design is beyond the scope of this project, jurisdictions and the Commonwealth are urged to act quickly and collaboratively to develop a framework and roadmap to respond to this challenge.  That work, linking to issues such as digital government, autonomous vehicles and identity management in border control should be undertaken sooner rather than later.

Pre-licence Theory Tests

Two potential Austroads work streams have been suggested for consideration to better harmonise theory tests:

  • the establishment of a national pre-licence testing resource library providing a simple, secure store for jurisdictions to share existing pre-licence testing resources and collaborate on the creation of new materials
  • building on work already being considered by jurisdictions to establish a nationally endorsed pre-licence learning and assessment framework built on sound adult learning principles, enabling jurisdictional contextualisation.

What’s Next

The second part of this project is underway, reviewing the National Heavy Vehicle Driver Competency Framework. The outcomes of the first stage of the project and any future stages will be reported to the Transport and Infrastructure Council and the Austroads Board.

Updated September 2017