Nearly half (48%) of UK adults say they are using less motor fuel than a year ago. Furthermore, 45% report using less than thy were just a month ago.

This news comes as forecourt prices continue to soar to record levels, and the ‘cost of living crisis’ kicks in. Inflation is now estimated to be  running at 10% and still rising. It means all areas of motoring costs are rising at a fast rate.

If you were thinking of investing in an electric vehicle (EV) to avoid the pumped up prices on the forecourts, you are likely to be waiting a year or more for your new car delivery. This is all down to the repercussions of the pandemic and lockdowns, specifically in China where they are still going on, restricting the manufacture and supply of semi-conductors and batteries for the automotive manufacturers.

Behind the wheel (or not)

The price of motor fuel has increased by 32.8% over the past 12 months. It means the cost of filling an average family car now more than £100, with drivers have revealed the actions they are taking to reduce their fuel bills. These are the clear finding of a new survey conducted by Aviva.

Are you or anyone in your household doing any of the following to reduce the amount of fuel used when driving? Percentage of UK adults
Using your vehicle for essential journeys only 44%
Walking instead of driving 39%
Putting less fuel in your car 26%
Driving at a lower speed 22%
Accelerating / braking more gradually 18%
Using public transport instead of your own vehicle 16%
I / we are not doing anything to use less motor fuel 16%
Working from home more often to avoid spending money on commuting 13%
Using a bicycle instead of driving 10%
Car-sharing with other people 8%
Swapping a petrol or diesel vehicle for a hybrid or electric vehicle 6%
Reducing the number of vehicles for your household 6%


Drip drip drip

The survey by the insurer asked people what steps, if any, they are taking to reduce their fuel usage. It finds that just 16% of respondents are taking no action. Nearly half (44%) admit they are using their vehicles for essential journeys only, while 39% say they are walking on occasion rather than driving.

Others reveal how they are using public transport instead of their own vehicle. The results show 16% are using buses and trains, while 10% say they are riding a bicycle. A halfway house is car sharing, which sees 8% opting to share their motoring costs with others.

Working from home is another option that is gaining traction, especially post lockdowns. Some (13%) admit working from home more often to avoid spending money on commuting.

The research also gives an insight into how motorists are trying to save money when they do need to use their vehicles, with just over a quarter (26%) saying they are putting less fuel in their tank at the pumps.

Nearly a quarter (22%) say they are driving at lower speeds and 18% report accelerating and braking more gradually to save fuel. Perhaps those road safety tips and planning ahead whilst behind the wheel are at last having an effect!

Adapting to the prevailing conditions

All this provides a “fascinating insight into how people are changing their driving behaviour” says Matthew Washer, Head of Connected Motor at Aviva.

“They also correspond with our own driving data relating to Aviva customers, which reveals a visible improvement in smooth driving between March and May 2022, compared to the same period in 2021 and 2020.

“As fuel prices reach an all-time high, drivers can take some comfort from the fact that by driving more smoothly and attentively, they will not only be saving fuel and money, but helping to make the roads safer and reducing their impact on the environment.

Fuel cost saving tips

  • Shop around: As you drive around, note which filling stations are cheapest and stop there when you’re passing. Bear in mind supermarkets can be competitive on price and may fill up your points card, too.
  • Tyre pressure: If your tyres are under- or over-inflated, your fuel won’t be taking you as far as it should. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations and make sure they’re pumped up to the right pressure, according to your vehicle’s load.
  • Lighten the load: Every excess pound your car is carrying can decrease your fuel economy, so remove any junk and keep only important items like the hydraulic jack, early warning devices and any tools you might need in an emergency.
  • Fuel’s heavy, too: If you tend to make short trips, it might be worth running your car with the tank a quarter full and topping up often with small amounts.
  • Don’t be a drag: Consider removing bike racks and roof racks, bars and boxes, unless you are using them every day. All of these will create wind resistance and cause your car to use more fuel through the ‘drag’ effect.
  • Don’t be an idler: New cars tend to switch off the engine every time you stop. If your vehicle doesn’t, you’ll save fuel by doing this yourself. Don’t forget that stationary idling is against the law.
  • Dress for the weather: Blasting the air-con or turning up the heating may feel necessary but it does impact the amount of fuel you use, as does opening the windows if it’s too hot.
  • Do all your errands in one trip: Once a car’s engine is warm it will run at its most fuel-efficient, so why not tick off as much of your to-do list as you can in one journey?
  • Change your driving style: If you hit high speeds before your engine is warm, you will waste fuel. Shift to higher gears as soon as possible and avoid slamming your foot on the accelerator and brake. In an electric vehicle, keeping momentum is the key to efficient driving.
  • Rethink your plans: Do you really need to drive? Could you car-share, take public transport or get your shopping delivered? This might not be the best option for every journey, but it could make a difference.
  • Finally, don’t forget about insurance: If you’ve got more than one car in the household, it may be cheaper to buy a multi-car policy than one for each car. Make sure your policy is based on the number of miles you drive – especially if you’re cutting back – and check what your cover includes, so you’re not paying for things you don’t need.

Intelligent Instructor would like to thank the team at Aviva for another great article.