UK workers shunning cars as fuel prices bite

Jun 12 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

With the cost of filling up at the petrol station continuing to rise and now the prospect of shortages at the pumps if this weekend's four-day strike by fuel tanker drivers goes ahead, British workers are increasingly looking at alternatives to driving when it comes to getting to and from work.

A study by International Energy Agency has concluded that British motorists are driving less following a doubling in crude oil prices over the past year.

At the same time, petrol retailers have reported a sharp drop in fuel sales over the past few weeks, with latest figures suggesting that demand for petrol in the UK has slumped by as much as a fifth over the past 12 months.

According to the IEA, motorists are instead choosing to take public transport as their cars become too expensive to run.

Eduardo Lopez, the IEA's chief oil analyst, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper this week: "British motorists are clearly driving less. They are switching to public transport, which is much easier to do in Britain than in America, where people living in the suburbs often have to drive whether or not they want to."

The motoring organisation the AA has also noticed a reduction in the amount of driving people are doing, whether for work or leisure.

Two thirds of motorists are looking for ways to cut their fuel use, it has estimated.

At the same time, a survey by the insurance website,, has found that one in six commuters now say the cost of driving to work had made them consider quitting their job and looking for work closer to home.

The research found that the average commuter had seen fuel bills rise 21 per cent over the past year.

The Petrol Retailers' Association, meanwhile, has reported a sharp fall in fuel sales over the past three weeks, especially in the north of England.

The cost of filling up the average family car is now in excess of £60 and it can take almost £80 to fill the tank of many popular models, the Telegraph estimated, with British motorists suffering more than their European counterparts.

The cost of unleaded petrol had risen by a fifth in Britain over the past year, a far greater increase than across the Continent, where prices have risen by 14 per cent, according to research by Post Office Travel Services.

In Italy and Germany prices rose by less than a tenth, by comparison, it added.