Paper driving licence abolition "rushed", says BVRLA
08 June 2015
The BVRLA has said the DVLA has "rushed the process" for switching to digital services in the wake of the abolition of the paper driving licence counterpart today (8 June).
Gerry Keaney, BVRLA chief executive, said: "Replacing paper forms with digital services is a great idea, but the Government has gone about this the wrong way by rushing the process and not giving enough warning to motorists.
"The online system being offered by the DVLA is far from ideal and the car rental industry is working with it as best it can."
Speaking on the John Humphrys, BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, Oliver Morley, chief executive of the DVLA, responded to the criticism from the BVRLA.
Morley is expecting the rental industry to make sure customers are informed of the changes to the licence and digital processes.
Humphrys said anecdotally on the Today show that most people don't know about the changes.
Morley said: "Over the past month based on our expectation and press we've done is that people do know about [the changes].
"We're expecting the car hire companies to inform their customers as and for the most part that they're doing that."
Keaney said the BVRLA is confident its members will keep licence holder customers up-to-date with any new procedures, which should minimise any disruption for travellers.
Keaney said: "Customers can take extra precautions by ensuring that their rental company has access to their endorsement information - available via the DVLA's Share Driving Licence service or its call centre."
The BVRLA has set-up an advice page for car hire customers concerned about the abolition of the paper counterpart to the driving licence and what it means for their rental.
The webpage, available at www.bvrla.co.uk/counterpart also provides links to further information and contact details for the DVLA and vehicle rental operators.
Last month, the DVLA moved its long-awaited licence-checking tool, Share Driving Licence, out of a private beta into a public beta.
The free tool allows users to view the vehicle categories they're entitled to drive and any endorsements or penalty points accrued.
The service allows driving licence holders to share information held at the DVLA with others - such as rental companies - while ensuring they stay in control of who sees it, the DVLA said.
It also enables users to share licence information with third party companies via a unique single-use code, which the third-party can use to access licence information.
To check if a driver has the correct licence, the driver must request an access code from the DVLA, which remains active for 72 hours. This is then provided to the employer, who uses the online service to make the check.
Morley said: "It is up to the car hire company if they need the code or not, but for the most part abroad in my experience, lots of people are saying you don't need it. If you do need to take it, it's not much different from making sure you have the details for your boarding pass.
"If you want to be comfortable, take the code. I'm going on my summer holiday in July and I won't be taking a code. My car hire company has said that I won't need it when I rent my car, so check before you go."
Morley defended the move to taking driving licence processes online saying it will be "simpler and cheaper for drivers".
He said: "It will definitely be cheaper for drivers. It's also going to be safer because we know that insurers, car hire companies and employers want to have up-to-date information on what the driver's record is.
"[With the online system] it's very easy to tell whether your points are up-to-date."
Steve Bridge, Mercedes-Benz Vans managing director, said: "These changes represent another upheaval for the motorist, and my fear is that it will be the small business owners that are once again hit hardest.
"Drivers need to remember that they must get their checking code or printable summary in advance of being asked the information. If you run a business, this is the responsibility of your driver to sort, but remember you have final responsibility if you put a driver in a company vehicle and they do not have the correct licence.
"However, it will be a short term pain for a long term gain. The money saved from scrapping the paper licence should be better spent elsewhere."