Motorists cut down on driving time due to increased fuel costs PA

The spiraling cost of running a car is forcing more and more people to abandon their vehicles and find alternative, cheaper forms of transport.

A new study by MoneySupermarket has discovered that almost half the total number of people asked have reduced the amount they drive or stopped completely.

The price comparison site asked people if another increase in petrol prices would change the way they drive. Two fifths (43 per cent) said they have already taken action and reduced the amount they drive, and six per cent have stopped driving completely. Almost a fifth (18 per cent) make sure they drive more fuel efficiently, and six per cent have switched cars to a cost effective eco model. Fourteen per cent have taken no action and not changed their driving habits at all.

Clare Francis, consumer finance expert at MoneySupermarket.com, commented: "Keeping a car on the road is an absolute necessity for millions of families across the country - sadly it's also a wallet-busting drain on household finances. But people can fight back against sky-high fuel prices as there are ways to save money, helping ease the pressure on their finances."

The study comes after the SMMT revealed last months UK new car registrations. A clear trend emerged, with buyers purchasing smaller, more economical vehicles. The top three best-selling cars were in the supermini or small family hatchback segment and all return 40+mpg on the combined cycle.

MoneySupermarket's top tips to beat high fuel costs

Convert to LPG - converting your car to LPG will slash what you spend on fuel. Not only is it cheaper, but it's a cleaner-burning fuel that is better for your engine and the environment. Fitting a secondary fuel tank will cost around £1,500 but you could earn back the cost of the modification in about 14 months.

Shed the extra weight - the heavier the car, the more fuel it consumes so offload any unnecessary items kept in the boot to cut costs.

Regular service - getting your car regularly serviced will mean it will not only last longer but be more fuel efficient.

Plan ahead - carefully planning your route means you can avoid busy roads and possibly lengthy spells sat in the traffic. Idling equates to zero miles per gallon.

Wrap up in winter - winter driving can increase engine workload by up to three per cent as "warm-up" idling and increased use of heaters all put extra strain on the engine. Cut this down by covering windscreens on winter nights, and turn off unnecessary car electrics.

Adapt your driving - save money by cutting back on engine revs and accelerate smoothly. Try to shift up to higher gears as soon as possible as lower gears usually mean higher fuel consumption. Keep gear changes as smooth as possible and avoid sharp acceleration and braking.

Don't drive as much - big savings can be made by cutting down the number of you miles you drive. Try car-sharing, and combining several errands in one trip to help cut down on fuel costs and reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle.