Some motorists have driven until they ran out of petrol, while others have dug into savings, gone into overdraft and borrowed from friends and families to pay for fuel.
Of the 23,824 AA members surveyed, 1% had pawned a possession in the past 18 months, with this figure rising to 4% for 18 to 24-year-olds.
Also, 1% have taken out a short-term, high-interest payday loan, while 1% have gone to their bank for a loan.
The region where drivers have dug into savings the most is the north east of England, while Wales and Northern Ireland are the areas where drivers have gone into overdraft the most.
The AA said that overall, the big petrol price rises of the last 18 months had even affected those from high managerial and professional backgrounds, with 15% admitting that their spending plans have nearly crashed off the road on at least one occasion since spring last year.
AA president Edmund King said: "Fuel price desperation has created a new and sinister twist to the phrase 'driven into debt'. Our survey has exposed the heavy impact of fuel price surges and which groups of drivers are particularly vulnerable.