The Government’s decision to slash motoring red tape looks set to benefit fleet operators in two key areas, but also raises administration issues that ministers must resolve, says ACFO.
The Department for Transport has announced the scrapping or improvement of a total of 142 road transport regulations following last year’s launch of the cross-Government ‘The Red Tape Challenge’ by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Among the measures to be scrapped is the regulation requiring drivers with a credit card-sized photo driving licence to hold a paper counterpart highlighting driving category exemptions and licence points. The measure, it is calculated, will save drivers up to £8 million.
Additionally, hard copies of V5C vehicle registration certificates, which highlight vehicle ownership and specific details appropriate to the individual vehicle, will only be issued to fleet operators when needed.
The Challenge was launched to reduce bureaucracy and get rid of regulations viewed as unnecessary, burdensome and overcomplicated.
ACFO has welcomed the Department’s decision in relation to both regulations. However, chairman Julie Jenner said that before the changes were made a number of concerns highlighted by fleet operators needed clarification.
Referring to the driving licence change, which is due to take place by 2015, she said: “Most drivers do not carry the paper counterpart to their photo licence with them to enable employers to immediately check issues around driving compliance and infringements resulting in points.
“However, while the removal of the regulation will reduce the amount of fraudulent activity by employees bent on trying to prove they have a clean driving licence, we need to know how information relating to points and driving class eligibility will be made available to employers responsible for ensuring occupational road risk management compliance.”
She added: “Directly checking individual driving licence validity and related details with the DVLA or via a third party checking agency is the only sure fire way to ensure at-work driving duty of care best practice is being followed.
“But for employers that continue to self-check driving licences we need to know the procedures that the Government will put in place or whether they expect revenue-raising checks to be made with the DVLA online or by telephone.”
Meanwhile, the V5C may be needed by fleet operators or their drivers on a number of occasions. For example, when driving abroad, when stopped by the police or, in the case of organisations that buy their vehicles, on defleet. However, for the majority of organisations the document sits in a file most of the time or for those that lease their vehicles is available from their supplier.
Jenner said: “In the event of the original V5C or a copy being required we need to be assured that there is a clear process in place for fleet operators to follow to obtain the document and a clear timeframe in which the DVLA has to provide it.”
She concluded: “Reducing bureaucracy is nearly always a welcome move as it almost invariably results in improvements in efficiency and thus savings in administration time and costs. However, in relation to the removal of these two regulations fleet operators need to be assured that inefficiencies will not result so more clarity from the Department is required.”