So many Norwegians wanted to obtain Norway’s new digital driver’s license on Tuesday that they ended up overloading and crashing the state highway department’s system for getting one. They were urged to be patient.
“Demand has been very high,” Bodil Rønning Dreyer, director of the highway department (Statens vegvesen), told state broadcaster NRK. She said that 230,000 people had already downloaded the app for the digital driver’s license by 7:30am, just after it had been publicly announced.
“By 9am we’d had more than 300,000,” Dreyer said, and prospective downloaders were getting the message Service Temporarily Unavailable. “Folks will just have to be patient.”
The system arguably should have been able to handle the demand, not least since around 2.2 million people licensed to drive in Norway are eligible. The encouraging news for state authorities, who are bound and determined to digitalize most state services, was just how popular a digital driver’s license seems to be.
“We had expected strong interest,” Dreyer told NRK, “but so many wanted to log in all at once. That exceeded our expectations, but it’s nice. We know this has been in demand.”
Only valid in Norway, for now
Several countries are developing digital licenses that can be portayed on smart phones. Norway seems to be the first country in Europe to actually roll one out on a major scale. Work on developing the digital system started 10 months ago.
Now it’s possible to not worry about being without your license as long as you have your phone, at least in Norway. The new digital format is initially valid only on Norwegian roads, since the EU/EEA hasn’t yet formed common practice regulations on digital licenses.
Motorists renting cars both in Norway and abroad will also still need to present their conventional driver’s licenses until told otherwise.
Dreyer confirmed that those with digital licenses will otherwise no longer need to have their actual licenses with them while driving. The licenses are also expected to serve as valid ID. In cases of speed traps and other official controls of motorists, both police and state highway authorities will know that the digital driver’s licenses are also up to date. It will be much easier for them to know which driving rights license holders have.
Dreyer and her staff also expect other advantages in the future, as digital licenses become more widespread internationally. Not as many people will need to physically visit a traffic station or authorities’ offices, nor will the state need to produce more actual driver’s license cards.
She promised that “everyone will gain access” to the new digital driving license app. They’ll just have to be patient.