DEU VERKEHR

The average motorist is driving less than at any point in the last 12 years, government figures claim. These statistics show that a typical driver in England covered just 7,900 miles last year – down from 9,200 miles in 2002 and 2003.

This means that a driver with a typical petrol car capable of 40mpg would have spent around £1,175 last year with today's petrol costs, compared to around £970 for a driver with a diesel car returning 50mpg.

Average distances covered dropped even though typical drivers in England commuted 2,800 miles by car last year – 300 miles more than in 2012. Typical drivers' social use of their car did reduce though from 4,700 miles in 2012, 2011 and 2010 to just 4,400 miles in 2013.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister told the Press Association: "While it is important to see whether individuals are driving more or less than before, official figures show overall traffic volume is on the rise again following the end of the recession.

"With the population expected to increase by 10 million over the next two decades congestion is going to get worse, not better."

Explaining the possible causes in falling car use, AA president Edmund King said: "The weather in 2013, spikes in fuel prices and an increase in online shopping have all contributed to the drop in car use. Although the coldest March in 50 years will have contributed to the fall in petrol sales in 2013, by far the biggest cause over the first quarter was the third 8p to 10p-a-litre price swing in 12 months."

He continued: "During all three price shocks, sales suffered because there was no more give in family budgets - the only alternative was to leave the car on the driveway. Despite the UK slowly coming out of recession our AA/Populus monitoring clearly shows that 60% of drivers reduce car trips when fuel prices increase."