ACFO is holdings talks with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency over how organisations will be able to check the validity of employee driving licences following changes due for implementation in 2014.
The Department for Transport has announced that as part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’ to cut bureaucracy the regulation requiring drivers with a credit card-sized photo driving licence to hold a paper counterpart highlighting driving category exemptions and licence points will be removed. The measure, it is calculated, will save drivers up to £8 million.
Earlier this year ACFO welcomed the move, but warned that before the change was made a number of concerns highlighted by fleet operators needed clarification.
Checking the validity of employees who drive on business – either a company provided vehicle or their own – is a fundamental part of every organisations’ occupational road risk management policy.
ACFO chairman Julie Jenner said: ‘Most drivers do not carry the paper counterpart to their photo licence with them to enable employers to immediately check issues around driving compliance and infringements resulting in points.
‘However, while the removal of the regulation will reduce the amount of fraudulent activity by employees bent on trying to prove they have a clean driving licence, we need to know how information relating to points and driving class eligibility will be made available to employers responsible for ensuring occupational road risk management compliance.’
She added: ‘Directly checking individual driving licence validity and related details with the DVLA or via a third party checking agency is the only sure fire way to ensure at-work driving duty of care best practice is being followed.
‘But for employers that continue to self-check driving licences we need to know the procedures that the Government will put in place or whether they expect revenue-raising checks to be made with the DVLA online or by telephone.’
ACFO directorJohn Pryorhas already attended a meeting with the DVLA and representatives of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association and the Freight Transport Association to discuss how businesses will be able to check employees’ driving licences.
It is anticipated that June 2014 will see removal of driving licence counterparts with a new enquiry database launched at the end of 2013. Additionally from June next year a driver’s address will no longer appear on the credit card-style driving licence, although it will remain on the paper counterpart.
Pryor, group fleet and travel manager, Arcadia and Bhs Group, said: ‘The DVLA wants to know if the trade organisations, including ACFO, would be interested in working with it to access the new enquiry database that would negate the need for current driving licence counterparts.
‘While ACFO neither has the resources or the ability to develop a standalone electronic driver licence checking system, it is possible that we could work with the BVRLA and the FTA which already have systems in place and have indicated they would be interested in helping our members.’
However, the key issue for fleets is obtaining authorisation to meet data protection regulations from drivers to access their driving licence details. Currently, that it achieved through a signed mandate that is valid for three years.
Pryor said: ‘One option that we have put to the DVLA is that each driving licence contains a unique reference number. Drivers, on presenting the licence to their employers and signing relevant paperwork would be agreeing to the use of the number to obtain information from the electronic database.’
He added: ‘There is a long way to go before a solution is developed that is satisfactory to ACFO and its members. However, the fact that the DVLA approached ACFO to be involved in developing a solution underlines the importance it attaches to meeting the requirements of fleet operators.’