One in five motorists driven off the road by soaring fuel prices

20 June 2011

• Green Flag study shows dramatic change in driving behaviour fuelled by petrol prices
• 14 per cent have stopped using their car and 7 per cent have swapped their cars for motorbikes
• 58 per cent of drivers have reduced their speed to conserve fuel
• 14 per cent now walk to their destination more often than they drive

More than one in five* motorists have been driven off the road in the past year by soaring fuel prices, either ditching the car completely or switching to more fuel-efficient transport new research from breakdown provider Green Flag shows.

The breakdown cover provider launched the study after seeing a 40 per cent rise in fuel-related call-outs in January. Since then, prices have continued to climb hitting an average 136.61p** per litre for unleaded compared with averages of 111.49p in 2010.

The study shows that 14 per cent of motorists have given up their cars in the past year, while another 7 per cent have swapped them for motorbikes or scooters.

The research also shows that drivers across the UK are reacting to the ongoing rise in petrol prices:
• 52 per cent say they have changed how they drive in the past year to save money
• 58 per cent of motorists have cut their average speed in order to conserve fuel
• 46 per cent now habitually shop around to find the least expensive petrol station
• 42 per cent saying they now walk to destinations more often than driving
• 14 per cent of drivers plan to either sell their cars or switch to more fuel-efficient cars as petrol prices continue to rise

Henry Topham, head of Green Flag, said: “Rising petrol prices are having a massive impact on household budgets and consequently having a dramatic impact on driver behaviours. For many drivers, owning a vehicle is a necessity rather than a luxury, so they are being forced into driving more fuel economically or switching to more fuel efficient modes of transportation in the face of rising prices.

“Cutting down on journeys and driving slower is better for the environment and general health and is a much better idea than attempting to keep going on an empty tank and having to call out a car breakdown service to rescue you.”

Cut speed                                                        58 per cent
Research fuel prices                                     46 per cent
Walk more often                                              42 per cent
Use public transport more often                   27 per cent
Shop online more often                                 21 per cent
Share car journeys                                          17 per cent
Cycle rather than drive                                    10 per cent
Switch to more fuel efficient car                    7 per cent
Other                                                              10 per cent

Source: Green Flag

Notes to editors
• * An independent survey conducted online by Consumer Intelligence among 1,681 UK adults between February 25 and 28 2011
• ** Fuel prices from
• *** An independent survey conducted online by Opinium among 2,111 UK adults between February 2 and 4 2011 shows motorists are spending on average £25 a week on petrol – equivalent to around £1,300 a year.
• At current prices that equates to around 18 litres of unleaded a week compared with 21 litres in November last year for the same money

Interview/ spokespeople available: Henry Topham, head of Green Flag, Gary Amos, head of rescue network and Neil Wilson, head of roadside rescue operations. Images and case study (recovery customer) available

For more information contact
o Claire Foster, press office manager for Green Flag -

Green Flag
With 40 years’ experience, Green Flag provides customers with rapid breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers have access to a national network of thousands of independent recovery agents in the UK and mainland Europe.

Green Flag is part of RBS Insurance, the second largest general insurer in the UK and is wholly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Customers can find out more about Green Flag products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 1557 or visiting

Green Flag Motoring Assistance breakdown cover is underwritten by Direct Line Insurance plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered office: 3 Edridge Road, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1AG. Registered in England No. 1810801. FSA registered No. 202684. The Financial Services Authority's Register can be accessed through