Why giving free rides is no longer on

 Published 20th May 2022
Driver Guides  General Guides 

You don't need us to tell you what the headlines have been explaining: inflation is on the rise fuelled by accelerating household costs: electricity, gas, heating fuels - and transport costs.

The recent surge in fuel prices helps explain why more and more UK motorists think it is socially acceptable to ask passengers to contribute to the cost of filling up their tank in exchange for a lift.

Research commissioned by the UK's largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that 64% of the 1,000 drivers surveyed believe it is becoming more socially acceptable for designated drivers to ask passengers to stump up money at the pumps.

These findings come as the cost-of-living crisis deepens for households across the country, with average petrol prices rising by 12.6p per litre between February and March.

Average petrol prices stood at 160.2 pence per litre in March 2022, compared with 123.7 pence per litre a year earlier. The March 2022 price is the highest recorded. The average price of diesel in March 2022, 170.5 pence per litre, was the highest on record... until April when the average was 172.3p.

Over the last two years, the impact of transport costs on inflation has gone from a downward contribution of 0.20% in May 2020 during the first coronavirus lockdown, to an upward contribution of 1.47% in March 2022. The downward pressures on prices has been far outweighed by the factors pushing them back upwards now the world is moving again.

All of that makes a big difference to the cost of running your car.

And makes it all the more likely drivers will be asking passengers to contribute

Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger drivers are more likely to ask passengers to help foot fuel bills, with 82% of drivers between the age of 18-24 believing it is more acceptable. This compares to 58% of over 65s, who are the least likely age group to split fuel costs.

The survey also revealed geography makes a difference, with 86% of Welsh motorists considering it to be acceptable to ask for passengers to contribute to petrol costs, the highest percentage answer. Meanwhile, just over half (55%) of Scottish and Northern Irish motorists felt it is becoming more socially acceptable to ask passengers to chip in for fuel costs, making them the least likely to do so.

There are also regional differences in England itself.

Residents of the East Midlands were most likely to ask for fuel contributions

Seven out of 10 in this region share the belief that passengers should contribute to fuel costs, while the East of England were feeling a little more generous, with only 56% of motorists from this region thinking it is socially acceptable to ask for petrol money.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, noted:

“With the soaring cost of fuel, as well as so many other factors contributing to the cost-of-living squeeze, perhaps it comes as little surprise that so many drivers are open to asking passengers to contribute towards their petrol and diesel bills.”

Neil also offered advice on how changing driving behaviours can help motorists feeling the financial squeeze: “A few small changes in the way we prepare our vehicles and plan journeys can make a substantial difference to our fuel consumption. Gentle acceleration, using the highest safe gear, keeping tyres well maintained and turning off the air-conditioning can all help keep fuel costs down while also improving road safety.”

For more information read our top tips guide to saving fuel.

View our latest blog posts