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Male drivers more likely to run out of fuel or misfuel

The survey found that 13% of men admitted to making a mistake at the pumps, compared to 8% of women.

Of those who say they have been left high and dry by “playing petrol or diesel roulette” and losing, 61% were men in contrast to just 39% who were women.

Although three quarters (76%) of the motoring population claim never to have been caught out, men are also slightly more likely to be repeat offenders – 6% compared with 4%.

Last year, the RAC dealt with around 22,000 “out of fuel” cases and 30,000 misfuelling incidents. This would extrapolate to around 130,000 among all UK drivers, or a financial cost of about £40m based on an average of £200 for draining and flushing a vehicle and the loss and replacement of £50 of fuel.

Although the reason for an increased tendency amongst men to misfuel and run out fuel is unclear – it may be as simple as they tend to drive more miles per year than women – what is certain is that the number of “out of fuel” incidents increases when fuel prices are rising, presumably because they are trying to make it to their preferred filling station with the lowest prices. 

RAC’s technical director David Bizley said: ‘Both running out of fuel and misfuelling can be “costly” mistakes. Running out of fuel can result in motorists being stranded in dangerous places on the road and misfuelling can be very expensive, particularly if a vehicle suffers damage as a result of the wrong fuel being sent around the system.

‘It is interesting to see the different attitudes between men and women. Perhaps men are more willing to take unnecessary risks, but ultimately it is a false economy if damage is caused as a result of regularly running low on fuel.’

He added: ‘Misfuelling can also be an expensive mistake, which we estimate, cost motorists around £40m last year. As most breakdown policies do not cover misfuelling, the RAC has developed a new “optional extra” product to cover the unexpected expense of putting the wrong fuel in a vehicle.’

The RAC also operates a fleet of 30 dedicated misfuelling patrol vans which are equipped to drain contaminated fuel at the roadside and re-fuel motorists’ vehicles so they can continue their journeys.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.