Hold the phone: Wheels turn on digital driver licence roll-out

Motorists in Queensland may soon have the ability to carry their drivers’ licences on their mobile phones, potentially undermining road safety efforts to minimise phones as a source of distraction behind the wheel.

Apr 20, 2023, updated Apr 20, 2023
Motorists will have one more reason to take their phones into the car when the State Government rolls out a digital licence app as early as next month.

Motorists will have one more reason to take their phones into the car when the State Government rolls out a digital licence app as early as next month.

While driver distraction causes about 20 per cent of all serious road crashes in Queensland, the State Government is pushing ahead with a plan that will have more Queensland motorists feeling almost compelled to always take their mobile phone into the car.

A trial group in Townsville will have the final say on the government’s new digital licence app before its expected state-wide release next month.

They are the second group to test the app, after an earlier version was issued to residents in Maryborough and Hervey Bay in 2021.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the project’s lead time had been used to conduct “rigorous testing” to ensure people’s data and privacy was secured.

He said the app had been completely redesigned to meet international standards, allowing Queensland motorists to use their digital licence around the world.

The Opposition asserts the government has been in the “slow lane”, comparing the project’s five-year timeline from when it was first announced to the more than 4.4. million people in NSW who are already using the technology.

Opposition transport spokesman Steve Minnikin said the LNP, not the Palaszczuk Government, had led the campaign for digital licences, resulting in a “big win for Queenslanders”.

“We campaigned hard for Queenslanders to have the choice of digital licences because we know having access to this technology matters to them,” he said.

“But it should never have taken this long and that’s why we’ve been driving the campaign.”

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Bailey said the the app had been designed “by Queenslanders, for Queenslanders”, ensuring that communities were involved at every step of the project, from selecting the developer, through to design and testing.

“Since inception we have taken the time and put in the effort to make sure that we aren’t just delivering the best digital licence but the safest as well,” he said.

“If you run a business or organisation which needs to verify your customers’ information, such as age, date of birth, address, driver licence status or more, it can all be done from the palm of your hand.”

The service will be available to anyone who has a Queensland driver licence, marine licence, or photo identification card.

Motorists in Queensland are fined more than $1000 if they are caught touching their phones while driving, although exemptions exist in legislation if a driver, while stopped, touches their phone to present their licence to a police officer.

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