Not driving home for Christmas

Thomas Olsson/DPA

It is set to be a lonely Christmas for many this year, as the rising cost of fuel will prevent people from seeing loved ones over the festive season.

More than a fifth will be apart from friends and family this Christmas as a result of spiralling motoring costs, according to a study by breakdown assistance provider, Green Flag. So how can you make your fuel go further?

It costs an average £49 in fuel and motoring charges to visit loved ones, according to the study, with 22% of motorists simply unable to find the spare cash to make the journey. A further 19% say they would like to visit friends or family but won't because of the high cost of bus and rail travel, while 16% say that expensive air-fares will prevent them from travelling to see at least some of their family and friends.

With fuel prices having risen 6.4% since the start of the year, according to figures from Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), motorists face further financial pressure at already expensive time of year.

Quieter roads and railways
Miranda Schunke, spokesperson for Green Flag, said: "Spiralling fuel and travel costs are set to have a real impact on some friends and families getting together over Christmas. The festive season burns a big enough hole in family pockets as it is, so it's no surprise that public transport and fuel costs have tipped the balance for many festive celebrations this year.

"UK roads tend to get extremely busy around Christmas, as does public transport, so it is possible that this slightly reduced number of people travelling over the festive season will make the journeys of those who are on the move safer and, in the case of public transport, a little more pleasant."

Fuel saving tips
If you are making the journey to visit loved ones, Green Flag shares some tips to make your fuel stretch further. Start by reducing any unnecessary weight in the car and only buy as much fuel as you need. Unnecessary equipment such as roof carriers, trailers, tow hitches will use more fuel too.

Check all tyres have the correct amount of air, too much or too little can be unsafe and can affect fuel efficiency. Reduce external drag by improving the aerodynamics; keep windows closed and lose the roof rack. Make sure the vehicle is serviced regularly to ensure that it is running in top condition.

How you drive can also affect fuel efficiency. Green Flag advises driving smoothly, with anticipation and avoid braking. Keep the revs down, use the right gear and lift off the accelerator as often as possible.

Stay at or below the speed limit and use cruise control on long drives. Plan your journey to avoid traffic jams where possible, and make use of iPhone apps provide traffic updates and route planners.
Read Full Story Click here to comment