The DVLA’s decision to introduce a digital database for organisations to check drivers’ records will raise the importance of employee licence checking, according to experts.
The Government announced last year that as part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’ to cut bureaucracy the regulation requiring drivers with a credit card-sized photo driving licence to hold a paper counterpart would be removed.
The counterpart is expected to be scrapped from 2015 and as a result the new database is being launched so that companies will be able to check driver licence details.
However, organisations that currently undertake driver licence record checking with the DVLA on behalf of employers say implementation of the new service will not impact demand for their services.
Malcolm Maycock, of the Licence Bureau, said: “What the DVLA is doing will raise the profile of licence checking and that will make sure that people who should not be on the road are removed.”
He says that many businesses continued to employ drivers that flouted the law and highlighted a recent example uncovered by the Licence Bureau of an employee who had been driving a van for 17 years and had two convictions - for driving without a licence and driving with no insurance. He still did not have a valid licence.
Martin Evans, managing director of Jaama, explained: “If a company employs only five or 10 drivers then they would probably access the DVLA database themselves and check the licence details of the individuals concerned.
“However, for larger organisations accessing each individual employee’s licence details will be a huge administrative burden.
“Having accessed the information they will then have to note down the details and key them into their systems.”
Not only was that administratively cumbersome but, said Evans, the requirement for subsequent manual intervention left room for errors.
He explained: “Presently from our viewpoint the whole process is fully automated. Licence information is seamlessly transferred from the DVLA on to a driver’s record at their employer once a mandate is signed and regular automated reminders trigger future checks.”
Maycock added: “Companies such as ourselves provide far more than a simple driver licence checking service.
“We are dissecting the data, providing a risk assessment of each individual employee and a full consolidated audit. We calculate there are more than 100 benefits to clients from the way our reports are presented.”
Meanwhile, the importance of securely protecting the new database is shared by the bosses at licence checking service providers.
Evans said: “Our processes and security system is audited by the DVLA for its robustness, but at the moment it seems that the DVLA system will be so loose it will be very easy for people to get hold of personal data. Security must be tighter.”
Maycock added: “More robust counter measures need to be introduced by the DVLA. At our meetings we have highlighted concerns that the database could be open to abuse. The DVLA must ensure that security is robust.”
Read next week’s Fleet News for more on the DVLA database and fleet concerns.