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New licence check system likely to bring short-term confusion for fleets but improve road safety

According to Nexus Vehicle Rental, the move to the new DVLA ‘Share Driving Licence’ system will cause problems for fleets, as highlighted by 87% of its customers in a survey.

The service can be used by fleet operators to check their drivers' licences legally and, for rental customers, will be required when hiring a car. The code will allow fleets and rental providers to view a customer’s name, type of vehicle they can drive, any penalty points or disqualifications, and the last eight characters of their driving licence number.  

Nexus added that customers don’t obtain their check codes prior to delivery of vehicles, rental companies cannot guarantee they will be able to supply the vehicle.

Yet the company conducted a survey of its 750 rental customers on the subject and found that over 80% didn’t feel enough had been done to publicise the changes and the potential impact on businesses, whilst 27% weren’t aware of the changes at all, until informed by Nexus. 

Customers commented that they ‘expect major problems when hiring in Europe and overseas locations’ and that ‘it could be a problem when hiring vehicles without prior knowledge regarding getting the correct paperwork’. One customer explained ‘the counterpart serves a purpose and should not be abolished’.

Mike Palmer, operations director at Nexus Vehicle Rental said: “We have issued communications to all of our customers and will be offering any advice and support we can as the check code is introduced.”

However, according to LICENCECHECK, the abolition of the paper counterpart undoubtedly presents a short-term challenge for companies, but in the longer term, will encourage better practices for firms that require access to driving licence data, thereby improving road safety.

Managing director Richard Brown said: “A small minority of drivers who have been using altered or forged counterparts are finally going to be exposed and taken off the road which should improve road safety for other drivers and members of the public.

“Using technology to provide real-time data to employers about entitlement, validity, disqualifications, and endorsements would seem to be just another logical step to tighten the noose around those individuals determined to flout the law.”

He added that, for companies, the abolition of the paper counterpart presents a real opportunity for those charged with the management of vehicles and drivers: “It’s the perfect chance to review their current procedures and ensure they remain fit for purpose and commensurate with the perceived risks to their drivers and other road users.

“In many companies compliance has traditionally been seen as an unwelcome inconvenience to be dealt with at a junior level as cheaply as possible,” observed Brown. “In some organisations this culture will remain unchanged. Our own experience, however, has been that the abolition of the counterpart has actually elevated driver and vehicle compliance to boardroom level – much to the delight of fleet and operations managers.” 

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.