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Drivers feeling the pinch as fuel prices soar

Filling up at the petrol pump

Motorists on ‘lower’ incomes are being priced off the road by record-breaking fuel costs, claims new research.

Drivers who earn between £5,001 and £10,000, such as part-time sales or customer service workers who are likely to have other commitments such as young families or other dependents, are paying a significant percentage of their income – anywhere between 7% and 13%, – on fuel.

That’s according to the study, conducted by Confused.com, which revealed motorists within this pay-bracket spend £653 per year on fuel, on average.

The cost to fill a medium-sized tank of petrol has now reached £75, after prices increased by 13.1p (+11%) in the last 12 months to an average of 131.5p/l in October – the highest on record.

Meanwhile, the price of diesel accelerated by 15.6p (+13%) to 136.2p with a full medium-sized tank (57L) costing £78, on average.

The inflated fuel costs have hit all motorists hard, with some admitting they are spending more money on fuel than quality time with their loved ones.

In fact, more than a fifth (22%) of drivers say they spend more on fuel in a month than they do going on days out with their family and friends.

One in six (17%) spend more on fuel than they are able to save in a month, while more than a quarter (28%) also say they spend more on fuel than their monthly car insurance bill – a notoriously expensive cost burdened on drivers.

Considering fuel has become such a major expenditure for many motorists, it’s no wonder a fifth (20%) say the cost is making it unaffordable to run a car.

Cutting costs

And there is evidence of this in the fact that one in seven (14%) drivers cannot afford to fill up their car with fuel regularly, with the average amount spent per trip to the pumps costing motorists just £31, per time, on average. And this isn’t even enough to fill up a tank of a small car (42L), which would cost £55 for petrol, and £57 for diesel, on average.

Cutting back on the amount they spend when topping up isn’t the only measure motorists are taking to save the pennies. Almost a quarter (23%) say they avoid making trips in their car to reduce their need to spend on fuel.

One in four (25%) drivers would even consider changing their job to move closer to their home to cut back the amount they are forking out on fuel. Nearly one in five (18%) would even consider changing jobs to get a better salary, in order to be able to afford to run their car.

Electric cars

And it seems motorists are willing to ditch conventional-fuel cars in order to cut back on their fuel spending, and would be adopt greener, more cost efficient alternatives.

Additional research by Confused.com(5) found that almost half (48%) of motorists would buy an electric vehicle for their next car, the majority (77%) of which would do so because it would save on fuel.

Worryingly, there is still the other 52% who wouldn’t, mostly (65%) due to the lack of charging points. Although, the hefty price tag is also an issue to some (61%).

Charging a Renault Zoe

“Fuel prices have reached the most expensive on record, according to our fuel price index, and motorists are feeling the sting, particularly those on lower incomes who are paying as much as 13% of their yearly income,” said Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com.

“And if prices continue to go up, motorists may be priced off the road. But at the moment, drivers are spending more money on fuel than they are on time with their loved ones, or even putting away money to save.

To ease the sting of rising fuel  costs, Confused.com is offering motorists £20 free Texaco vouchers with car insurance, to make filling up their tank that little bit easier.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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