Rising petrol prices are changing car driver habits

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Britain’s motorists have radically changed their driving habits in an effort to conserve fuel, according to a new survey. The report, commissioned by Halfords, revealed that more than seven out of ten people are making a conscious decision to use less fuel. The majority, 63%, are doing this by driving more slowly, while 45% are braking and accelerating less.

Britain’s motorists have radically changed their driving habits in an effort to conserve fuel, according to a new survey.

The report, commissioned by Halfords, revealed that more than seven out of ten people are making a conscious decision to use less fuel. The majority, 63%, are doing this by driving more slowly, while 45% are braking and accelerating less.

Motorists changing behaviour comes as the cost of fuel threatens to soar to £2 a litre and the Chancellor faces growing pressure to ease the tax burden on hard pressed car owners in next week’s Budget.

In the wake of record high petrol and diesel prices, almost three in ten (29%) are now questioning whether they can continue to afford to run a car, while one in four plan to opt for a smaller or more fuel efficient motor next time they change their vehicle

Use of public transport has increased among 11% of people, four in ten (40%) have taken to walking to nearby shops and nine per cent are using bicycles.

When asked about current monthly fuel expenditure 63% are paying over £75 a month and 42% fork out over £100 a month at the pump to keep the car running. 15% are spending more than £150 a month. Seven out of ten actively seek out the lowest priced filling station in their area.

Concern about the effect of fuel prices on the household budget was a recurring theme in the Halfords survey, carried out by researchers* who questioned 2000 car users about how they were adapting to higher fuel costs.

One in five say they will have no alternative but to cut back on other expenditure, such as nights out or leisure activities, because they have no other suitable transport available to them. People also identified sacrifices already being made including cancelling days out to visit family and friends (18%) or choosing to visit only those closer to home (36%)

Car sharing to get to work is becoming more popular with one in ten saying they have linked up with colleagues for the daily commute and 10% said they were considering buying a bike to get to work using the Government Cycle to Work scheme. This gives a financial tax incentive that reduces the cost of purchase by approximately a half. A further 35% said they would consider getting out the bike and using the car less if their work was closer to home or there were more dedicated cycle routes in towns and cities.

There was no indication that motorists were cutting back on car services as a way of saving money.

Halfords Autocentre Chief Executive Duncan Wilkes said: “The high cost of fuel is hitting drivers hard and most are having to change their habits to limit the effect of rising prices. Our survey shows that high fuel costs are having a serious impact on people’s quality of life, such as fewer days out and cutting back on trips to friends and family who don’t live near by.

“Keeping a car properly maintained is essential in ensuring cars run at maximum efficiency, so car servicing at intervals recommended by the manufacturer can actually save you money in the long run”. For more information on car servicing visit: http://www.halfordsautocentres.com/en-gb/Car-Servicing/

Along with regular servicing, the garage chain recommends its exclusive Fuel Service because, according to independent surveys, it can reduce fuel consumption on cars over three years old by as much as 25%.

A ‘spring clean’ for engines, it flushes out the dirty deposits that restrict the flow of fuel – helping to keep motoring costs down.

A litre of fuel now costs 17.6p more a litre than it did six months ago, meaning motorists are able to do approximately 100 miles a month less for the same money than last September.

*Survey of 2000 car drivers carried out the 9th March by online pollsters One Poll

Halfords has rebranded the chain of 240 Halfords Autocentres, formerly Nationwide Autocentres, which offer car servicing, tyres and MOTs in its distinctive orange and black branding. The network will be 400 strong within five years, creating 1,000 new jobs.

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Richard Skidmore