With the fuel shortage appearing to ease in most regions, and the situation back to normal in many locations – excepting London and the South East – new figures reveal how many drivers have been affected since the crisis began.
Research by Kwik Fit reveals that the fuel problems have had an impact on almost half (47 per cent) of the nation’s drivers.
The burden has fallen most heavily on the young, with 62 per cent of drivers under 34 affected, compared to 38 per cent of those over 55.
The research found that across the country, 8.5 million drivers have decided not to make at least one car journey which they otherwise would have taken, while some 2.9 million motorists say they have not used their car at all because of the fuel shortage.
The figures reflect the reports of longer lasting problems in London and the South East.
In the capital, 75 per cent of drivers say they have been affected, followed by 61 per cent in the East of England and 54 per cent in the South East.
In Scotland, the picture is the reverse of London’s – 77 per cent of drivers say they have been unaffected by fuel shortages, and in the North East 71 per cent of motorists have felt no impact.
Crucially, at this time of economic recovery, 1.7 million drivers have missed work because of the fuel problems.
Away from work, more than one in ten (11 per cent) of drivers have cancelled social plans because of the shortage, an understandable response to the crisis but one which will have had a significant knock on effect on the already hard hit hospitality sector.
The Kwik Fit research found that driven by necessity, many drivers have changed their behaviour.
One in seven drivers (14 per cent) say they have driven more slowly to minimise their fuel consumption, while 11 per cent have replaced a car journey by travelling by bike or on foot.
One in 12 (8 per cent) say they have switched to public transport for a journey instead of using their car and around one in 25 (4 per cent) have car shared on a journey they would have otherwise taken alone.
These relatively low numbers will be concerning for those authorities aiming to encourage more people to opt for public transport or car share on a regular basis.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “There have been differences of opinion over the causes of the fuel supply problems and how they could have been avoided, but it’s clear from this research that there needs to be a robust plan for the longer term.
“With half of all drivers being impacted by local shortages it’s going to be unsustainable for people’s work, family and social lives if these issues are repeated.”
While the supply of fuel to filling stations is out of drivers’ control, there are some measures that they can take to maximise fuel efficiency.
Kwik Fit advises that when thinking about fuel consumption motorists consider their car from top to bottom and front to back.
How to maximise fuel efficiency
Top – remove any roof bars, racks, bike carriers or roof boxes when they are not being used. These cause significant drag and ruin fuel economy Bottom – ensure tyres are at the correct pressure. Underinflated tyres increase rolling resistance and therefore fuel consumption (as well as compromising handling and safety) Front – don’t overwork the engine. As 14 per cent of drivers say they have done, be lighter on the accelerator, and try to anticipate when needing to brake. Generally, smoother motoring - leaving space and maintaining momentum – will improve fuel efficiency Back – empty the boot. Extra weight requires extra energy to get moving - if something is not needed for the journey, leave it at home
Regular servicing will also help maintain fuel efficiency by keeping an engine running smoothly, as well as extending the lifespan of a vehicle and ensuring that any faults are identified before they become serious issues.