Chris Chandler, consultant at Lex Autolease, explains why fleets have welcomed the tax disc abolition.
The introduction of digital vehicle road tax has caused quite a stir amongst motoring organisations, thanks in no small part to research which suggested that half of drivers didn’t know the changes were coming into effect.
Here at Lex Autolease, we’ve welcomed the news, albeit with a touch of misty-eyed nostalgia, that the iconic paper disc which has adorned our windscreens since 1921 will be no more.
The simple fact is that the existing paper disc system was made redundant long ago. The police, local authorities and traffic wardens have been able to find out whether a vehicle’s tax is up to date, and much more about any vehicle, using mobile electronic technology and databases.
Furthermore, all the details of individual motors have been available online, via the DVLA’s database, to the public for years. Since the electronic systems already tell us what a paper disc shows, it’s a natural progression to dispose of the disc.
The abolition of the paper tax disc might not seem a great cost-cutting exercise and, of course, the price of the material for each disc and holder might run to only a few pence. However, more than 44 million discs were issued in 2013 alone – that’s a considerable cumulative outlay for the DVLA.
Not only that, but the task of distributing them to drivers can be an administrative nightmare for larger fleet operators.
Lex Autolease has close to 300,000 vehicles in its fleet. Posting out tax discs to drivers, either individually or to businesses where a fleet manager takes over distribution, involves a fair bit of logistical planning.
Transferring the vehicle road tax wholly online and having direct debit payment options will considerably reduce both the administrative burden on fleet operators and leasing companies and the environmental impact of printing and posting over 44 million discs per annum.
We should keep this front of mind before we start to mourn the loss of paper tax discs.