A BBC investigation into a loophole that was enabling the trade of full UK driving licenses to motorists from non-EU countries had led to the Roads minister Stephen Hammond to change the laws on how driving licenses will be issued to foreign drivers. The BBC found that an arrangement between UK and Hong Kong was being abused by agents who would illegally obtain full UK driving licences for foreign drivers, including nationals from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Malaysia, the USA, Israel and China.
If nationals from other countries already have a driving license then they are allowed to drive in the UK for up to one year before having to take another test if they do not qualify for an automatic swap of their license. However, fraudulent details are being provided for those wanting a full UK license for when they move to the country without having to be retested. Therefore, the government has announced that the law will soon be changed so that anyone from a non-EU country will have to provide evidence that they have passed a driving test which is of the same standard as one in Britain.
Concerning the new laws, Stephen Hammond said: “It is obvious to everyone that drivers who have not been through a rigorous driving test will not be as safe as those who have. This change in law will mean we can be sure that any foreign drivers exchanging their licence here have already passed a test of similar standard to ours.” The fact that foreign drivers will now have to take a test means that hopefully there will be less accidents on the road, which could help reduce the cost of premiums for motor insurance policies.
There has also been support for the plans from those concerned about terrorism in the UK, especially as driving licences are the main form of identification in Britain. Professor Richard Aldrich, who works at the University of Warwich as a terrorism and security expert said: “A driving licence is effectively an ID card in the UK and can be used for a whole range of significant purposes including boarding a domestic aircraft, taking out a loan and even gaining entry as a visitor to a government building. The loopholes revealed by the BBC were shocking and remarkable precisely because this is our main form of ID.”