This huge change has been universally welcomed across the UK, but with the new paperless driving licences that came into effect on June 8th, a few critics have pointed out that fleet operators and the general public should be urged to ensure that themselves and their drivers are fully prepared when driving or hiring a vehicle abroad under these new regulations.
What has changed?
As of June 8th, driving licences in the UK will no longer contain a paper counterpart, a document which has been heavily relied on by employers, insurers and car hire companies to determine whether or not an individual is entitled to drive.
In a valiant attempt to go digital and dramatically reduce the time it takes to perform a licence check, the information that is stored on this counterpart, has been placed onto a new DVLA online system called ‘View Driving Licence’. This cyber-record will be the only legal source of every driver’s licencing history in the UK, displaying any penalty points and disqualifications details, making it impossible for an individual to hide any information from an employer.
How can we access this information?
When your employees are driving their vehicles abroad or hiring a vehicle, a digital confirmation of their licence will need to be produced as well as their usual photocard licence and this can be done in a few ways:
1) A driver can access the View Driving Licence system and using his/her National Insurance Number, postcode and driving licence number can generate a unique passcode which will need to be presented to hire companies to access the driver’s complete record history. This passcode is only valid for 72 hours, so should be generated immediately before travelling abroad.
2) If the 72-hour period has expired or there is no access to the internet, drivers can also print off a PDF of their driving licence using the VDL system, and this is advisable anyway as an extra failsafe. Drivers should carry both their photocard and NI number as the system cannot be accessed without them.
3) If both the options above are not applicable, you can call the DVLAs premium telephone service which costs 51p per minute and the driver must be present to confirm his/her details.
What does this mean for fleet managers?
As will most digital ventures it is likely that there will be teething problems, especially considering the Government’s record in successfully delivering and maintaining complex IT solutions. The AA has even recommended that all drivers keep their counterparts as a failsafe so we are not completely reliant on this technology.
Fleet managers will experience higher costs as they will have to provide drivers with mobile data when travelling overseas because there will be roaming charges associated with accessing the DVLA website whilst at hire company offices or border control locations. Furthermore, it is a fleet operators duty of care and legal obligation to ensure that both themselves and the insurance company have the most recent, accurate driving records and collecting to this information or failure to keep record will cost time and money as well as affect premiums.
On the positive side, checking licence information online will dramatically reduce the tedious, time-consuming administrative tasks associated with manual checks. Although the cost of these digital services will remain the same, over time the real cost will reduce.
It will also make it much more difficult for fraudulent drivers to hide their poor driving records from employers and as driver convictions are spent, fleet managers can not only relish in the fact they are promoting road safety, but see a huge reduction in overall insurance premiums.