Headlines: February 14th, 2001

The visit to the Post Office with a licence renewal form, certificate of insurance, MOT certificate, and a cheque could be replaced by a phone call or on line transaction in the next two years. The Driver Vehicle Licencing Agency launched a pilot telephone re-licensing scheme in 1999 in partnership with an insurance company and a motor manufacturer and a customer survey found a 98 per cent satisfaction rate.Extension of the scheme, which will also include on line renewal, depends on a new database of vehicle insurances being constructed by the Association of British Insurers and the Vehicle Inspectorate completing a national MOT database.

Electronic renewal will be bad news for those who evade payment of vehicle excise duty and for those involved in vehicle-related crime. Following a successful trial of Automatic Number Plate Readers, which identify unlicensed vehicles on public roads, a nation-wide operation is about to be launched. Sharing data between the Automatic Readers and the new databases is expected to substantially reduce the 118 m pounds annual loss from evasion.