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Experts urge fleet chiefs to check validity of photocard licences

22 August 2008

Fleet decision-makers should check the validity of at-work drivers’ photocard driving licences as the 10-year life of the first to be issued comes to an end, according to risk management experts at fleet management software company Jaama and leasing and fleet management company Alphabet.

The first people to receive photo driving licences in July 1998 should be renewing their licence now by supplying the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) with a new photo, or they will become invalid.

Photocard licences are valid for 10 years and were first issued in July 1998. As well as invalidating their driving licence, drivers who fail to renew their photo can be prosecuted for failing to surrender the old licence and supplying a fresh photograph for the replacement one. If convicted, drivers face a £1,000 fine.

Alphabet calculates that a total of 90,000 photo licences are due for renewal in 2008. However, the company’s survey of nearly 2,000 drivers found that 45% of photocard licence holders did not know when their licence was due to expire.

Moreover, 28% of photocard licence holders had changed their address in the last three years. Unless people remember to tell the DVLA of their new address (the fine for failing to do this is also up to £1,000), they will not receive a reminder when their photo needs to be renewed.

The survey also revealed that only 24% of drivers held old-style paper licences and nearly one in five of the photocard licence holders (18%) thought that their licence was due for renewal within the next two years.

The cost of renewal is £17.50 and while the DVLA is writing to every licence holder reminding them of the need to renew, there are concerns that many drivers have changed address without informing the authorities, which is also an offence.

Additionally, a company that allows an employee to drive a vehicle without a valid licence is also liable to prosecution. It would also invalidate insurance.

Jaama says that licence checking should be the most obvious basic risk step for all businesses as they get to grips with ever-tougher legislation targeted at improving driver safety and removing dangerous drivers from the UK’s roads.

Companies, says Jaama, could have their entire at-work driving health and safety procedures investigated by the police if an employee is caught driving without a valid licence and particularly if they are involved in a serious road crash.

Jaama’s online Key2 Vehicle Management is at the cutting edge of fleet software and includes a link to the DVLA so enabling employee licence checks to be undertaken.

Managing director Jason Francis said: “Driver licence checking is the Achilles heel for many fleets. All employees who drive on business should have their licences validated and any endorsements put on file whether they drive company-provided vehicles or their own.

“The date an employee obtained their photo licence should be part of their employment record. Jaama’s Key2 system will enable automatic reminders to be established that can act as a trigger for at-work drivers to renew their licences in plenty of time.”

The DVLA says photo driving licences should be renewed after 10 years because a person’s appearance can change thus making it more difficult to recognise them if a photo on a licence is older.

Alphabet has produced a brief guide for fleets, outlining the renewal requirements for photocard licences. A copy of this guide is available by calling 0870 50 50 100.

Mark Sinclair, director Alphabet, said: “It is an essential part of companies’ duty of care to make sure that every employee who drives on business holds a valid, up-to-date driving licence. Alphabet recommends that employers should keep a record of all working drivers’ licences and their expiry dates, which should be updated annually.