Patrick McGillycuddy, head of fleet at Skoda, discusses whether we can actually live without the paper counterpart.
Next year, the DVLA will continue its modernisation and efficiency plan with the scrapping of the paper counterpart to the driving licence. It’s a bold change as we move ever forward in to the digital age, but the question is; can we do without the paper licence?
As with the scrapping of the paper tax disc earlier this year there will be a lot of talk about the emotional attachment to the paper counterpart. In principle, having a credit card style photo licence with an online system for checking validity and points is a much more modern and simple way of operating.
After all, if you were going to set up a licensing system from scratch today, why on earth would you go about doing it on two different items that both need to be shown for checks to be valid?
And it’s this area where fleets become interested in the matter.
All employers with staff driving on company business should be checking licences. It’s part of the fundamentals of fleet management.
Larger fleets will probably have licence checking outsourced to a specialist company, but many medium sized and smaller fleets will still be using visual checks of the paper licence.
With the current system there is always the worry that if a dishonest employee wanted to hide points, or even a ban, they sent a scan or photocopy of a clean licence, and there was no way of telling when the clean copy was taken.
The new online licence checking system, which is already up and running, needs to be accurate and operate in real-time if it’s to work well. This certainly seems to be the case and was accurate when I tested it with my details.
And you can try it yourself here too.
The main hurdle will be getting consent from staff to check their licences electronically.
So the answer seems to be; yes, we can live without the paper counterpart and for years the licence may not have been worth the paper it was printed on.
And the upshot should be more accurate licence checking and as a result fleets and businesses will be safer.