Drivers risk huge £5,000 fine for running out of fuel on the motorway

An empty fuel pump

Drivers are being urged to make sure they have enough fuel

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Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves


Published: 14/08/2023

- 13:53

Motorists are being urged to check four key things every time before they start driving

Motoring experts have identified a number of important factors drivers need to remember to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown.

National Highways is calling on drivers to check their fuel levels after almost 1,600 fuel-related breakdowns last summer.


During June, July and August, there were 1,582 instances of drivers running out of petrol or diesel on motorways across the country.

To deal with the problems, motorists are being urged to remember an acronym reminding them of their duties.

An empty fuel gauge

Drivers should always have enough fuel before setting off

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The new campaign urges drivers to top up, rest, inspect tyres and prepare for weather conditions – or “TRIP”.

The simple checklist aims to help drivers avoid breaking down on the motorway because they run out of fuel.

Frank Bird, senior network planner at National Highways, said: “It’s disappointing to see so many vehicles running out of fuel last summer and our message to drivers is really simple.

“Check it, don’t chance it when it comes to topping up your vehicle with fuel and oil.

“It’s really important that drivers play their part in helping to keep people moving this summer and that includes making sure there is enough fuel to reach the destination so make sure you also keep an eye on the gauge during the journey.

“We’d also remind motorists to top up screen-wash to make sure they have good visibility of the road ahead.”

Motoring experts also urge drivers to plan regular rest stops when travelling on a long journey, as drivers can easily get tired.

It is advised for drivers to stop every two hours to stop, get something to eat or drink and get some fresh air for at least 15 minutes.

Rule 91 of the Highway Code highlights this, saying that driving when tired can greatly increase the risk of a collision.

Similarly, Rule 97 states that drivers should ensure they have sufficient fuel or charge for their journey before setting off.

This is especially important when driving on the motorway, with any breakdown having a major impact on other vehicles.

Drivers cannot be fined if they run out of fuel, but they can receive an on-the-spot fine of £100 if they are found to be obstructing traffic.

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They can also receive three penalty points added to their licence, with fines potentially rising up to £5,000 if they are charged with careless driving.

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