Petrol prices have risen yet again – to a level where they're just 3p shy of the record set in mid-April.

And motoring organisations are warning that people living in rural areas and businesses are being hit particularly hard.

This weekend saw the average pump price rise of unleaded increase to a whopping 139.71p a litre, just a few pence short of the all-time high of 142.48p.

The average cost of diesel reached 143.98p – in mid-April it cost 147.93p.

The latest increases come despite the price of unleaded petrol falling to around 130p a litre earlier in the summer.

Since the beginning of July, the cost of a typical 50-litre tank has risen by £4.45. And it now costs £6.29 more to fill the 80-litre tank of a commercial van.

Families with two cars are really feeling the squeeze – they're seeing their monthly petrol costs rise by £18.90.

The news comes off the back of the announcement that the OFT is investigating rising prices at the pumps.

And the AA has spoken out – firmly aligning itself on the side of the motorist.

"Once again UK drivers find themselves being dragged over a barrel, as do businesses," said AA president Edmund King.

"Last week, government statistics showed that traffic on minor country roads has fallen by five per cent, such is the impact of record fuel prices on rural communities."

The AA is now asking why traditional price drops at the end of summer are not happening this year.

"Traditionally, the price of petrol falls off at the end of summer," said King. "Closing Coryton and refineries on both sides of the Atlantic, supposedly because of excess production capacity, seems less justified.''

MPs are due to debate the issue of fuel prices on Thursday and a Westminster debate tomorrow will focus on the 'fuel price-induced tragedy in rural Britain'.

Added King: "The Office of Fair Trading has launched an investigation, but drivers are growing weary of words – they want action.

"The initiative to introduce a wholesale price track this year and make fuel prices more transparent would have been big step forward, but now it's on hold."

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