10 things fleets need to know about paper counterpart abolition

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 10:00
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“The system the Government is currently proposing is not suitable for business needs.”

The abolition of the driving licence paper counterpart on June 8 could have major implications for fleets and their drivers.

The abolition was originally intended to go ahead on the 1 January 2015. The initial announcement to remove the counterpart was part of the government’s drive to reduce unnecessary burden to business in 2011 and was initially supported by the FTA on the condition that a suitable online replacement was in place prior to its removal. Surprise surprise this was not the case.

To help fleet managers and their drivers prepare, here is a list of the top ten things they need to know:

  • All fleet managers, particularly those with large fleets, should start planning now for any potential impact the counterpart abolition will have on the way they handle driver data.
  • The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is abolishing the paper counterpart that accompanies the current driving licence photocard, but not the old-style paper licences issued before 1998. These are still valid, but will no longer be legally accepted as having an up-to-date record of a driver’s endorsements, penalty points or disqualifications.
  • The driver record held centrally by the DVLA will be the only legal source of the driver’s licensing history, penalty points, endorsement and disqualification details.
  • From 8 June 2015, fleets will have three options for checking a driver’s details:
    *They can call the DVLA’s premium rate telephone service. This costs 51p per minute and the driver must be present.
    *They can ask drivers to provide a printed copy of their licence details using the DVLA’s new Share My Driving Licence (SMDL) service, which is accessible via the www.gov.uk digital government services portal. The SMDL service is free and the details can be separately verified online by using a one-time-only DVLA access code supplied by the driver.
    *They can use an accredited driving licence verification service provider.
  • For auditing or compliance purposes, the telephone service does not provide the fleet manager with an authenticated record of the date and time that the driving licence check was made.
  • Handling driver information brings responsibilities under data protection legislation. Fleets need to consider how they manage, record and keep driver data, and can obtain advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office (www.ico.org.uk). Alternatively, they can use an accredited driver licence checking service provider, who will ensure that driver details are stored and handled in a legal and compliant manner.
  • Data protection is not the only issue. Accessing driver information means that fleets have a duty of care to manage any apparent risk. For example, a company might want to check the driving record of a high-mileage driver more regularly than that of an occasional driver.
  • The abolition of the driving licence counterpart will have a particular impact on the daily rental sector, where companies rely on the document to check a driver’s entitlement to drive and any points or endorsements. To ensure that the vehicle hire process continues to run smoothly fleets should talk to their rental provider about which of the driver information services they will be using.
  • BVRLA members own and operate around four million vehicles and can provide a range of driver and risk management support for fleets. All of our members adhere to our mandatory Code of Conduct which sets out minimum standards for customer service, fair terms and conditions and transparency of information – backing them up with a dispute resolution service.
  • The DVLA is also committed to keeping fleets and drivers up-to-date with the latest information regarding the abolition of the counterpart. It has created this video which fleet managers may wish to share with their drivers: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHIIkTDegqE

With thanks to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.

Do you feel prepared for the upcoming changes? Employers will be given access to a new electronic licence-checking service a month prior to the paper counterpart being abolished, but we can see it being an admin nightmare for larger fleets.

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