AA/Populus Panel

Three quarters of AA members affected by high cost of fuel

28 July 2008

a car dashboard display warns of running out of fuel

Three quarters of drivers are affected by the high cost of fuel with more than half cutting back on car journeys, according to an AA/Populus poll of 15,306 members.

The results reflect AA concerns about the volatility of the oil price, its impact on fuel prices at the pump and the onward impact this has on households and the economy at large.

In short the polling found:

  • 77% of members had made a conscious decision to drive less by car or had cut back on other areas of spending, or had done both (up from 64% in April)
  • 55% of the entire sample had cut back on car journeys (up from 37% in April)

Vehicle fuel and transport costs form the biggest part of household budgets. As fuel cost is the largest element, people and business are feeling the pain of high prices. Eighteen per cent more drivers have cut back on journeys since April reflecting the increased fuel prices.

Edmund King, AA president, appeared on Panorama1 talking about the effects of high fuel prices and explained "there is no doubt that some people are being priced off the road."

The AA Populus panel – the biggest dedicated study of motorists' behaviour in the UK – shows that the continued increase in fuel prices over the past four months has been hitting a growing number of people.

The survey found drivers aged over 55s are most likely to have made a conscious decision to travel less by car because of the rising cost of fuel.

By contrast younger drivers, aged between 18 and 24, are most likely to have cut back on other areas of spending.

Nearly half of people questioned (47 per cent) have cut back on eating out or going to the cinema. One in 10 of have cut back on car servicing, which is likely to lead to more breakdowns.

AA comment

Edmund King, the president of the AA, has sent poll results to the Chancellor Alistair Darling to show how people are being hit by soaring fuel prices.

He said: "The high petrol and diesel prices are adversely affecting three quarters of the public.

"For many people the car is an absolute necessity to get to work or the shops so they have to cut back on other areas of expenditure.

"Yet petrol and diesel is still taxed as a luxury with almost 60 per cent of the pump price going to the Chancellor as tax. Ironically petrol is taxed a higher rate per litre than real luxuries such as champagne."

The AA has noted that as a result of high prices more people were running out of petrol – the proportion of people running out of fuel and calling out the AA has jumped by 11 per cent year on year.

Mr King added: "People who are used to putting in £20 worth find it runs out one third earlier this year. Others are shopping around for a bargain but never find one, so run out of fuel.

"Our 3,000 patrols are reporting that the roads are quieter and that drivers are conserving precious fuel by sticking to the speed limits."

Other results

  • The percentage saying that they had neither cut spending nor made an effort to travel less was highest amongst those in socio-economic groups AB (25%) and lowest amongst those in group DE (19%)
  • Older drivers (over 55s) are most likely to have made a conscious decision to travel less by car because of the cost of petrol/diesel (28%)
  • Younger drivers (18-24) are most likely to have cut back on other areas of spending (25%)
  • Younger drivers are also most likely to have cut back on both
  • Women are most likely to have cut back on weekly shopping (39% against 33% male)
  • 10% have cut back on car servicing which is likely to lead to more breakdowns and vehicle emissions
  • 47% have cut back on eating out
  • Driver in London, South and Northern Ireland are more likely to have taken a conscious decision to drive less
  • Drivers in the East Midlands are most likely to have cut back on spending and cut down on travel are car (35%)
  • Drivers in Wales are least likely to have cut back on eating out
  • Drivers in the NE and London are most likely to have cut back on cinema/theatre or entertainment
  • Drivers in Yorkshire/Humberside and East Midlands are most likely to have cut back on car servicing
  • Drivers in London, South West and Wales are least likely to have cut back on other areas of spending

Factfile

These figures are from the AA Populus poll of 15,306 drivers (conducted between 4 to 16 July 2008)

1Panorama BBC 1 "Can we afford to fill up", 8.30pm Monday 28 July 2008

AA Public Affairs - the voice of UK motorists

 

28 July 2008