Leading industry trade body, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has convinced the Government to delay plans to abolish the paper counterpart to the driving licence until an online system suitable for businesses has been developed.
It has now been announced that the removal of the counterpart to the driving licence will not go ahead on the 1 January 2015 as originally planned.
The initial announcement to remove the counterpart as part of the Governments drive to reduce unnecessary burden to business in 2011 was supported by the FTA on the condition that a suitable online replacement agreed by business users was in place prior to its removal. This is not the case therefore "the delay has come as an early Christmas present for employers who rely on the counterpart to ensure that their drivers are legally able to drive" states the FTA, who said that the proposed electronic system was not ‘"fit-for-purpose."
Ian Gallagher – FTA Head of Policy for Driver Licencing said: "businesses that employ a large number of people who have to drive for a living have a critical role in ensuring these drivers are safe and eligible to be on the road. FTA members desperately want a sophisticated electronic system for monitoring their drivers – but the system the Government is currently proposing is not suitable for business needs. The decision to post pone the scrapping of the counterpart is therefore welcomed while we all work together to sort out a system which is fit for purpose."
The Driver Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) proposed replacement relies on the individual driver logging into the ‘View Driver Record’ system and printing off a copy of their counterpart details which they can give to their employer who will be able to verify the information being provided within 48 hours by also going online. Whilst this process may work for some employers FTA members who employ many thousands of drivers and have their licences checked up to three times a year will find this process both time consuming and costly.
Mr Gallagher added: "failure to ensure that a driver is entitled to drive has a direct impact on road safety, with many hundreds of thousands of drivers employed in GB additional resources will need to be targeted at this process adding cost and time to a requirement that is currently free of charge."
FTA was given assurances by the DVLA in July 2014 that the removal would not happen until such a time that an alternative was in place that satisfied the requirements of FTA business users, if the only system on offer to them would be through ‘View Driver Record’ then this would break that promise, and therefore FTA has proposed that DVLA should not withdraw the counterpart to the licence for vocational drivers until a multiple checking system is in place, that meets the needs of the FTA members and business users.