Soaring fuel prices have forced millions of drivers into the slow lane in a bid to lower their fuel consumption.

Some 59 percent of motorists have said they would cut their motorway speeds in order to save fuel, according to new research by the AA.

The AA has pointed out that, apart from being illegal, driving at 80mph is 25 percent less effective than driving at the national speed limit of 70mph. It claims that by just easing off on the motorway, motorists could save up to £500 a year in fuel bills.

The AA says that the figures showing drivers are willing to slow down, compiled by the Department for Transport to assess public attitude to climate change, mirrors its own research which says that 49 percent of drivers intend to drive more economically. The AA also reckons the average driver is paying £10 more a tank for diesel and £8.40 for petrol compared to a year ago.

Standard unleaded petrol currently costs an average of 129.0p a litre across the country, with a highest price of 143.9p according to petrolprices.com. Diesel is even higher at an average of 134.3p a litre, rising to a maximum of 146.9p in some places.

The current political unrest in places such as Bahrain and Libya has raised fears that costs are set to creep up ever further as well, as both countries are such major exporters of oil. Average oil prices have now topped $100 a barrel, rising to a recent high of $101.67 on the New York Merchantile Exchange.