Press release -


One in eight motorists drive with a near-empty tank of petrol, with a quarter of 18-34 year olds admitting to being a ‘vapour trailer’

1.4 million motorists have run out of fuel completely in the last year – millions more suffering from ‘petrol panic’

27 per cent increase in fuel prices since financial crisis struck – motorists paying more but getting less for their money

New research from Green Flag shows that 4.6 million (13 per cent) motorists have found themselves driving on empty in the last three months. Green Flag has termed these drivers ‘Vapour trailers,’ motorists that risk running out of fuel by regularly driving with the petrol warning light flashing. In the past 12 months alone, a staggering 1.4 million (4 per cent) motorists have completely run out of fuel whilst on the road.

Younger drivers, those aged 18-34, find themselves “running on empty” the most with a quarter (25 per cent) having done so in the last three months alone. Millions of drivers are suffering from petrol panic, living in fear of running out of petrol, with more than one in eight (13 per cent) saying that they have set out on a journey feeling nervous about running out of fuel. For many this fear is well founded as one in six men (17 per cent) have run out of petrol whilst driving, compared to one in ten females (11 per cent).

The research discovered that Brits spend an average of £20.44 a week on fuel, the equivalent of £1062.89 a year. However, with the cost of petrol having risen by 27 per cent2 since the financial crisis struck in 2008, UK’s motorists are getting less value and mileage for their money in the toughest of times.

Drivers in Wales and the North East top the leader board with 18 per cent admitting to ‘vapour trailing’ by driving on fumes due to spiralling petrol prices.

Table showing the percentage of drivers who have been “running on empty” in the last three months and their average weekly spend on fuel

Region, % of drivers running on empty and Weekly Fuel Expenditure

North East 18% £27.22

Wales 18% £24.89

East Midlands 16% £25.07

West Midlands 16% £25.91

Yorkshire & Humberside 14% £24.56

South East 14% £29.29

N. Ireland 13% £32.78

Scotland 11% £28.74

London 10% £25.74

South West 9% £27.13

East of England 9% £30.10

North West 8% £26.00

Source: Green Flag

Miranda Schunke, spokesperson for Green Flag breakdown service, said: “Vapour trailers pose a serious threat to themselves and other motorists. Running out of fuel on a busy road increases the risk of being hit by other motorists and those who have run dry awaiting assistance by the side of the road are also leaving themselves unnecessarily vulnerable. Rising fuel prices and the general costs of living are contributing to motorists understandably changing their driving habits but we urge everyone to think about their petrol consumption for their own safety and other road users.”


Notes to Editors:

1. Research conducted by Opinium Research amongst 2014 UK adults 17.4.12. All figures are based on the percentage of survey respondents answering this option. The survey is representative of UK adults aged 18+. Dept of Transport figures show 35,290,963 adults in the UK with driving licences in 2010 therefore all figures are based on percentages of this figure.

2. Figure found using price of unleaded (at pump, including VAT) in May 2008– May 2012 -

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Miranda Schunke

Green Flag Press Office

Tel: 0208 266 3795

Mobile: 07766 472 690



  • Economy, Finance


  • car breakdowns
  • green flag
  • miranda schunke
  • motoring assistance
  • petrol prices
  • running on empty


  • England

Green Flag

With over 40 years experience, Green Flag provides customers with breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers have access to a network of breakdown operators across the UK and mainland Europe.

Green Flag is part of RBS Insurance, which 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, connecting via the Green Flag Rescue Me Application, or visiting

Green Flag Motoring Assistance is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales no 1179980. U K Insurance Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.


Miranda Schunke

Press contact Spokesperson External Communications 07766 472 690

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