Earlier today there was a virtual meeting conducted by the different Land Transportation Office (LTO) district offices, licensing centers, stakeholders, and consultants. The topic of discussion: the implementation of the 10-year license validity from the LTO.

During President Rodrigo Duterte's last SONA, he stated that they will look into implementing the 10-year validity that was made a possibility under Republic Act 10930. The plan is to roll out those licenses come October 2021 or just about two months away.

Generally speaking, drivers with clean records (e.g. no violations/demerits) will be allowed to avail of a 10-year license while the “naughtier” ones will be able to get a 5-year license.

But simply putting the year 2026 or 2031 on the driver's license wasn't as simple as that, and there were a lot of concerns raised during the online meeting earlier today. The biggest concerns were about the medical examinations and psychological evaluations of drivers for a license that has such a long validity.

Dr. Ma. Antonia de los Angeles made a point that a driver is like a pilot who is responsible for passengers. She asserted that a regular medical check-up within the 10 year period be mandated.

This was echoed by the representative from Pasang Masda, as the group put forth a suggestion that there should be a physical examination every two years to determine if a driver is fit to get behind the wheel. This would supposedly help monitor certain conditions (e.g. deteriorating eyesight) and reflexes of the drivers.

Dr. de los Angeles drove a point that a medical check-up for licensing purposes is like COVID-19 testing; a subject could be negative now, but tomorrow it could be different.

Medical experts concerned 10-year license validity too long image

Dr. Lester Abeleda also weighed in and suggested that senior and elderly drivers should be limited to the three or five-year driver license validity. If the driver has eyesight issues, there should be a re-examination after 3 years in a bracketed manner. He stressed that the issuance of licenses should really depend on the medical examination.

Mercynita Paras of the LTO's Quezon City licensing center, however, also had a critical point to make, and that's the psychological evaluation of the drivers. She believes that 10 years is too long, and stressed that a behavioral assessment be added given the incidents of road rage now.

Dr. Anabel Banzon stated that written exams can help the LTO assess the mental health of the applicants. This approach put forth by Dr. Banzon appears to be similar to what the PNP is implementing when it comes to firearms licenses with the Neuro-Psych evaluation.

The issue for such an evaluation would be the cost. When asked, Dr. de los Angeles stated that the charge for a psychological evaluation is PHP 2,500. That price tag will definitely be a bone of contention for the 10-year license program, especially if a motorist will have to undergo one multiple times within a 10-year validity period.

There is a caveat though: it seems many of the participating doctors in the meeting are affiliated with the medical examination centers typically attached or in the proximity to the license renewal centers to render their services.

Yes, the government is two months away from implementing the 10-year license validity program, but it seems there are a lot of kinks and creases that need ironing out.