One in eight motorists drive with a near-empty tank of petrol, with a quarter of 18-34 year olds admitting to being a ‘vapour trailer’, according to new research from breakdown organisation Green Flag.

The research shows that 4.6 million (13%) of motorists have found themselves driving on empty in the past three months. Green Flag has termed these drivers ‘vapour trailers,’ motorists that risk running out of fuel by regularly driving with the petrol warning light flashing.

In the past 12 months alone, a staggering 1.4 million (4%) motorists have completely run out of fuel while on the road. Younger drivers, those aged 18-34, find themselves “running on empty” the most with a quarter (25%) having done so in the past three months alone.

Green Flag claims millions of drivers are suffering from petrol panic – living in fear of running out of petrol – with more than one in eight (13%) saying that they have set out on a journey feeling nervous about running out of fuel. For many this fear is well founded as one in six men (17%) have run out of petrol while driving, compared to one in ten females (11%).

The research discovered that Brits spend an average of £20.44 a week on fuel, the equivalent of £1,062.89 a year. However, with the cost of petrol having risen by 27 per cent since the financial crisis struck in 2008, UK’s motorists are getting less value and mileage for their money in the toughest of times.

Drivers in Wales and the North East top the leader board with 18 per cent admitting to ‘vapour trailing’ by driving on fumes due to spiralling petrol prices.

Miranda Schunke, spokesperson for Green Flag breakdown service, said: “Vapour trailers pose a serious threat to themselves and other motorists. Running out of fuel on a busy road increases the risk of being hit by other motorists, and those who have run dry awaiting assistance by the side of the road are also leaving themselves unnecessarily vulnerable.

"Rising fuel prices and the general costs of living are contributing to motorists understandably changing their driving habits, but we urge everyone to think about their petrol consumption for their own safety and that of other road users.”

The table below shows the percentage of drivers who have been ’running on empty’ in the past three months and their average weekly spend on fuel.

Region % of drivers running on empty Weekly Fuel Expenditure

North East 18% £27.22

Wales 18% £24.89

East Midlands 16% £25.07

West Midlands 16% £25.91

Yorkshire & Humberside 14% £24.56

South East 14% £29.29

N. Ireland 13% £32.78

Scotland 11% £28.74

London 10% £25.74

South West 9% £27.13

East of England 9% £30.10

North West 8% £26.00

Source: Green Flag