UK petrol consumption in January fell to its lowest level on record, new government figures show.

Figures released by HM Revenue and Customs show that, in January, UK drivers got through 1.351 billion litres of petrol. That is 1% down on the previous January’s consumption and 12.7% less than five years ago (1.548 billion litres).

Diesel consumption at the start of the year was also substantially down on 12 months before, totalling 2.123 billion litres, compared with 2.250 billion litres a year earlier with a drop of 5.6%. However, compared to five years ago (2.020 billion litres), UK road transport used 5.1% more diesel in January.

The AA blamed the fall on increasing fuel prices as petrol pump prices rose above 120ppl for the first time since December 2014.

A Populus survey of 20,055 AA members in February found that a quarter of them (24%) are now restricting their car use and one in seven (14%) is cutting back on non-fuel spending to compensate for the higher cost of keeping their vehicles on the road.

Throughout 2016, petrol consumption was down from 17.319 billion litres the year before to 17.101 billion litres, a reduction of 1.3%. Compared with five years ago (19.548 billion litres), UK drivers now get through 2.447 billion litres of petrol fewer a year – down 12.5%.

“Better fuel efficiency is one reason for lower petrol consumption, although new petrol cars outnumbered new diesel cars by 2.6% last year and still petrol consumption continues to fall. However, the highest pump prices since December 2014 have taken their toll,” said AA spokesman Luke Bosdet.

“The same is happening in the US, where petrol consumption is down more than 2% than a year ago. There is a breaking point for consumer budgets when the cost of road fuel rises and, in the UK, 120ppl or more seems to have found it.”