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ACFO to play key role in shaping DVLA’s checking service

ACFO, the UK representative body for fleet decision-makers, is to play a key role as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) finalises its new online driver licence validation checking service. As the clock ticks down to the 1st January, 2015 abolition of the counterpart to the driving licence, the DVLA has pledged to consult closely with ACFO on key issues.

They include:

  • Whether the service will be free of charge or carry a fee per driver licence checked
  • Security surrounding employer access to employees’ driving records.

The DVLA’s promise to work closely with ACFO and its members as “subject-matter experts” came at a special seminar organised by the fleet operators’ body and hosted by industry publication Fleet News at this year’s Company Car in Action event at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

ACFO has been involved in meetings and dialogue with the DVLA for a year following the Government’s decision to abolish the paper counterpart of the driving licence in 2014/15.

However, the seminar gave fleet managers a unique opportunity to quiz DVLA managers face-to-face on the organisation’s move to the online accessibility of driver and vehicle records as part of the Government’s “Red Tape Challenge” and its bid to reduce both the burden and reliance on paper documents.

Earlier this year the DVLA launched its Integrated Enquiries Platform (IEP) allowing individuals access to their driver record. The DVLA is now developing options for how the document checking service will be accessed by corporate organisations.

In the coming weeks DVLA will be asking for feedback from ACFO on potential control options on employers accessing drivers’ records once organisations have obtained permission from individual employees. Employers will then be able to view online individual employees’ eligibility to drive and the number of penalty points on their licence.

ACFO chairman John Pryor said: “We welcome the opportunity to assist the DVLA. ACFO will play a full part in helping it to configure the IEP so that it meets the requirements of fleet operators in terms of securely, quickly and easily accessing drivers’ records.

“We had become frustrated with the length of time that it was taking the DVLA to develop the technology particularly as it is now only six months before the planned abolition of the of the counterpart to the driving licence.

“Once the site is accessible for testing, ACFO will bring together a group of members who will deliver feedback to the DVLA on its user-friendliness prior to it going live.

“We are subject-matter experts in terms of what information we need to be able to access and so are delighted to be able to work with the DVLA in developing this vital checking service. Occupational road risk management is critical for all employers and driver licence validation checks are an essential part of road safety.”

A further key issue for ACFO is whether a charge will be levied for accessing individual driver records. The DVLA told the seminar that it was still in discussion with ministers and admitted “all options are under discussion”.

Once again the DVLA has asked for fleet views on the issue and Mr Pryor said: “We will consult with members. Once again we welcome the DVLA’s willingness to discuss the matter with ACFO and we will be providing feedback as quickly as possible.”

Mr Pryor concluded: “ACFO remains concerned that the DVLA is up against a very tight deadline if the counterpart to the driving licence is be abolished by 2015.

“ACFO will give the DVLA all the feedback that it requires on all issues. Crucially we must be assured about site security with drivers’ records only accessible by bona fide organisations that have employees’ permission.

“Cost is also critical. Currently many fleets undertake their own visual checks on employees’ driving licences which are obviously free of charge, although some use third party organisations. Depending on the number of points a driver has licences may be checked more frequently than once a year. If an employer has to pay each time they access the DVLA site then considerable costs could mount up, which could result in checks not being made. That would be a retrograde step in terms of employers’ compliance responsibilities.”

Fleet administration complexity will be reduced in the coming months when the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) launches online access to the V5C vehicle registration certificate (log book).

The development means that fleets will no longer have to store paper copies of the V5C for individual vehicles, but will be able to view it online and lodge an online request for the document if it is required.

The measure is part of a raft of online developments by the DVLA giving fleets and individual drivers online access to vehicle and driver records and the ability to notify it when changes are required, including when a vehicle is sold.

The DVLA is presently building the inquiry platform that will give fleet managers online access to individual vehicle records, including the ability to access multiple records and build in alerts when cars and vans need taxing and an MoT.

Once again the DVLA has pledged to engage with fleets in the build up to the launch of the service to ensure it is secure and user-friendly. It is anticipated that the service, following a transition period, will be accessible online by March 2015.

ACFO chairman John Pryor said: “We welcome the Government’s decision to enable fleets to request a V5C on demand. It is a superfluous piece of paper for fleet managers to retain.

“ACFO will work with the DVLA to ensure that the online access to a V5C is both secure and straightforward.”

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