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January 20, 2010

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Caernarfon, Wales – Its only taken 13 years to get there but there are strong indications that the vehicle tax statutory off-road notification, SORN, legislative package will be completed in 2011 when Continuous Insurance Enforcement is finally introduced into the UK.

Nineteen ninety-eight halcyon days, no safety cameras, you could smoke in pubs and petrol was only £2.76 a gallon. Then, OMG, SORN was introduced. What a kerfuffle with thousands of old geezers with boxes of bezzers moaning that they would have to road tax a wooden box of bike bits. Well of course they didn’t have to and statutory off-road notification, SORN, has now become another fact of biking life.

SORN has been quite effective in reducing vehicle tax evasion, although arguable it causes the honest citizen more hassle than those who chose to live on the other side of the vehicle taxation tracks. The real teeth of the package of legislation, which SORN is part of, is of course Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE).

CIE will mean it will be an offence simply to be the registered keeper of an uninsured vehicle, the police will not have to prove it was in use. CIE will replace existing laws, whereby a prosecution can take place only if an uninsured rider/driver is caught in the act. An initial penalty of £100 will be applied, followed by further fines of up to £1,000 levied by a magistrate’s court.

Implementation of the new rules in 2011 will allow those riders/drivers who are not using their vehicles, and have left them uninsured for one year, to seek exemption by sorting out off-road storage and making a ‘statutory off-road notification’ (SORN). They will, as is now the case, be exempted from vehicle tax. Vehicles already SORNed will automatically be insurance exempt.

Over 2 million people a year are driving or riding without insurance. If you are a rider and have been hit by an uninsured driver you will know what grief this can cause. Your only recourse is to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which compensates up to 30,000 people a year who have been in accidents with uninsured vehicle users.

Will CIE be effective? It will almost certainly cut the numbers using a vehicle while uninsured but will, in my view, not attack the core issue of ‘community vehicles’. These vehicles are simple brought from scrap yards and used with no register owner, MoT, road tax and insurance with users, sometimes unlicensed, simple seeing fines incurred as a ‘transport cost’.

Moreover, what about those without off-street parking, for them it is impossible to SORN a vehicle, they could fall victim to the new legislation. The Department for Transport’s own figures estimate that 43% of households in Britain have neither a garage nor a driveway, forcing vehicle owners to park on the street.

Will CIE simple be another tranche of legislation that affects those with the honesty to register a vehicle?


© Back Roads Rider 2010


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