The decision to declare a statutory off road notice (SORN) to the DVLA is not one that is ever taken lightly; however, 2020 has seen a record number of car, van and motorcycle owners do just that. In fact, during March and April of this year, twice as many SORNs were lodged than usual.
As the Covid 19 lockdown was expected to last for several months, vehicle owners made the decision to recoup some of their vehicle excise duty (VED), or road tax, for the period when their vehicle was to be idle. This is only repaid for full months unused; but issuing a SORN was still seen as worthwhile by millions of owners.
The DVLA reported (after a freedom of information (FOI) request) that, in the period 23rd March (when the first Covid 19 lockdown was announced) to 19th April 2020, over 544,000 SORNs were issued. This compares with less than 253,000 during the same period in 2019; a rise of over 115%.
At the start of the lockdown, there was also an MOT exemption period announced; this was due to last until the end of September 2020. However, this date was brought forward to the beginning of July. As people were also discouraged from using public transport, this led to millions of drivers suddenly needing or wanting to use their stored vehicles again, months before they'd planned to.
Although reversing the SORN process is easy enough to do (via the DVLA website), this sudden rush to get back on the road still caught individuals and authorities somewhat on the hop. Apart from anything else, vehicle owners noticed that being idle hadn't done their prized possessions any good at all. This in turn led to a rush for MOT tests, and claims on insurance; that is, if the owners of SORNed vehicles had kept them insured while off road.
Since the beginning of July - which saw the end of the MOT exemption period coinciding with the opening up of many "non-essential" businesses - a more normal level of SORN applications has taken root. As the second lockdown, begun in October, was not intended to be indefinite, this made it harder for vehicle owners to plan too far ahead. This in itself tends to dampen SORN application numbers.
Perhaps ironically, one of the demographic groups which take out high levels of SORNs are students. This is because they often know that they will not be driving for months at a time; usually this is between September and June. In this case, it makes sense to recoup several full months' worth of road tax.
Of course, the situation for millions of students has changed out of all recognition from previous years. Some are locked into their halls of residence, while others have returned home much more quickly than they'd anticipated.
Until people can realistically plan ahead, it is very unlikely that there will be anything like a rerun of the high numbers of SORNs witnessed in the Spring of 2020.
www.sorn.co.uk provide an easy to use paid for portal when registering a vehicle for statutory off road notification as well as sorn insurance, scrap your vehicle and sell your vehicle options. We are not affiliated with the government or DVLA however we do source vehicle information from the DVLA to search that the correct vehicle is issued as SORN.