Fuel duty increase postponed by Chancellor
27 June 2012
A 3p per litre increase in fuel duty due to be implemented in August, that would have had a major impact on fleet running costs, has been delayed until 2013.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced to the House of Commons that the planned rise in dutre would be postponed until next January, freezing fuel duty for the rest of the year.
The move follows calls by the oppositiong to delay the increase, as well as campaigning and lobbying from road users' groups. Osborne told MPs: "We are on the side of working families and businesses and this will fuel our recovery at this very difficult economic time for the world."
In the 2011 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor cancelled a scheduled 3p increase in fuel duty due in January but said another planned rise this August would proceed - although it would be cut from 5p to 3p.
Fleets warned over data protection laws
27 June 2012
Fleet operators are being warned that they may fall foul of data protection laws if company cars enter the remarketing arena before hard drives are cleared of any personal data.
The Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) has issued a best practice guide to its members to help them address the growing issue of vehicles coming to auction with a driver’s personal details still intact on a car’s internal hard drives.
The technological evolution of satellite navigation, phone kits and entertainment systems means that personal driver information is being stored on the car’s hard drives, including phone directories and personal addresses. And with manufacturers developing greater functionality for in-car infotainment systems, even more data will be stored on car hard drives in the future, which may pose an even greater risk to both the employee and the employer.
Ultimately it is the driver’s responsibility to erase this date from the car before it goes back to the rental company, leasing company or franchised dealer, but that doesn’t always happen, says the VRA. “We have yet to see major instances of any personal data being misused if it is inadvertently left on a car’s sat-nav or in-car system, but this won’t be the case for ever,” said VRA chairman John Davies. We have seen an instance where a car buyer traced the previous company car driver to his home address to ask more details about the used car he had just purchased at auction. If a driver’s phone has personal details of, for example, a politician or public figure and the sat-nav includes address details, this could be a real security concern.”
The VRA has 60 members who work in and around the remarketing industry, collectively handling and selling close to two million used vehicles every year in the UK wholesale market. This represents around 60% of all vehicles ultimately purchased by a private motorist from a motor retailer. To protect members from passing on a driver’s personal data when they sell a car, the VRA is recommending a series of measures.
It suggests ensuring that wording is included in customer contracts and master hire agreements informing their customer’s drivers of their obligations. Signed confirmation must also be received by the vehicle owner as part of the vehicle de-hire process that all data has been removed from the vehicle.
In addition, it recommends actioning ‘Delete All’ or ‘Factory Reset’ or similar as part of the remarketing process before a car is sold and is encouraging individual companies to conduct a privacy impact assessment. The Data Protection Act controls how an individual’s personal information is used and its rules require everyone who collects data to follow strict guidelines to keep that information safe.
Bauer fleet manager Debbie Floyde said: “I hadn’t recognised this as an issue until now and I suggest that’s probably the case for the vast majority of fleet managers. Not all of our cars have the capacity to store data so we’re now in the process of assessing what vehicles might be affected, before deciding what advice to offer our drivers. Nevertheless, I can see why it could be an issue and as manufacturers develop further functionality on infotainment systems, with the ability to store even more personal data, it’s a problem that’s sure to persist.”
The VRA told Fleet News that when it discussed the issue with members earlier this year, some companies had already adopted their own policies and others had talked to customers about the issue.
Private motor insurance investigation should .....
27 June 2012
....... bring benefits for fleet premiums
EC opens door to smart card licences
27 June 2012
The driving licence is facing a major overhaul after the European Commission paved the way for it to be based on smart card technology.
The EC has agreed a set of standards allowing an array of personal data, including the licence holder’s photo, any endorsements and iris and fingerprint biometrics, to be stored on a new chipped card. The UK Government has already signalled its intention to bin the paper counterpart of the licence from 2015, while a driver’s address will no longer appear on the existing photocard from 2013/14.
A DVLA spokesman said: “This will mean that a driver will no longer have to return the driving licence to the DVLA when they change address or receive points.” However, it also has implications for fleets if their current licence checking policy requires drivers to bring in the paper counterpart to be checked for endorsements. This would no longer be possible.
The DVLA is remaining tight-lipped about any plans to launch a smart card here, despite being an enthusiastic supporter of the technology in recent years. This may be motivated by fears of how people will react to a card containing so much personal information on it, when identity theft is a major concern. It also comes in the wake of public anger to the previous Government’s plans for an identity card and the Coalition Government’s dumping of the resulting watered-down voluntary version in 2010.
The DVLA told Fleet News that “the UK has yet to decide whether or when a chip might be added” to the driving licence, but it was “continually looking at ways to improve the security of the driving licence”.
It recently outlined its smart card strategy to representatives from other European countries and admitted it was hopeful that chipped driving licences would be rolled out in the UK from 2014. Changes to the driving licence are being driven by a combination of European legislation – the so-called Third European Driving Licence Directive, which takes effect from January 2013 – and the Government’s red tape challenge, which is aimed at cutting bureaucracy.
European Driving Licence Directives require member states to adopt a common format licence, to harmonise categories and to provide common standards of competence and fitness to drive. The current law applies to the Second Directive, agreed in 1991, but a Third Directive was agreed in December 2006 and will come into force in January 2013. It further harmonises definitions of vehicle sub-categories and rules on the duration of the validity of a licence, introduces minimum standards for driving examiners and attempts to ensure that no one can simultaneously possess more than one licence issued by an EU or European Economic Area (EEA) state.
It also gives the green light to chip technology, banned under the previous directive and it could also see the removal of the requirement for fleet operators to hold a V5C registration certificate from 2013, instead issuing them only on demand.
“This will reduce the administrative burden on fleet operators to handle, distribute and store often large volumes of paper documents,” said a DVLA spokesman. “Instead, fleet operators will be provided with an electronic enquiry function to check vehicles’ details.”
Companies could find further savings if, alongside the removal of the paper driving licence counterpart, a database holding driver information, including endorsements, is developed and fleets are granted access to it.
A fleet manager checking for any endorsements on an employees’ driving licence currently pays up to £10 per driver per year. Access to a new database could be granted at a reduced rate through ACFO or FTA membership, making the process cheaper for fleets and less bureaucratic.
The DVLA told Fleet News that it was looking at a range of services, which could include “enhanced access to driver’s data”. “We are working with the insurance industry to provide access to driver information for the purpose of enabling more accurate insurance quotes,” said a spokesman. “Further opportunities will also be examined with other stakeholders.”
ACFO believes the paper counterpart could be scrapped as early as June 2014, with the new database launched at the end of 2013. However, ACFO director John Pryor, who attended a recent meeting with the DVLA, alongside the Freight Transport Association and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, sounded a note of caution. “There is a long way to go before a solution is developed that is satisfactory to ACFO and its members,” he said.
DVLA clarifies advice for drivers
27 June 2012
The DVLA has today issued new guidelines aimed at making it easier for drivers with insulin treated diabetes to understand the new driver licensing rules recently introduced to comply with a new European Directive on driving licences.
The DVLA has worked closely with Diabetes UK, the leading charity for those with the condition, to make sure that the information available to drivers is clear and easy to understand. Following concerns raised by Diabetes UK that the application form for a driving licence was misleading, DVLA worked closely with Diabetes UK to agree and implement a number of changes to the form, such as making it clearer what is meant by a "severe hypoglycaemic event".
Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "I asked the DVLA to work with Diabetes UK to ensure that people with diabetes understand the importance of notifying the Agency about their condition. We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads, while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people's independence and their right to work. I am extremely pleased that Diabetes UK and the DVLA have worked so closely on this to make sure that the information available for drivers is clear and easily understood."
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "We were concerned about the impact of recent changes to the medical standards for drivers with diabetes. Some people did not understand the implications of some of the questions on the medical questionnaires and were providing wrong answers that meant that their licences could not be granted. We raised our concerns with the Road Safety Minster and we are pleased by how the Government has listened to our concerns and been prepared to work with us to develop forms that are easier for people with diabetes to understand.
"We are still worried about the increase in people with diabetes having their driving licenses taken away, but this change means that at least people are unlikely to miss out because they did not understand the application form. We will continue to work with the DVLA to monitor the impact of the changes to driver licensing for people with diabetes and to ensure that the process is fair, transparent and safe."