Half of all drivers in the UK have been affected by the fuel shortages of the past few weeks, according to new research. A study of 2,000 Brits by garage chain Kwik Fit found 47 percent have been hit by the shortages, having to change their plans, with some even parking the car for the duration.

Across the country, an estimated 8.5 million motorists decided not to make at least one car journey they otherwise would have taken. And an estimated 2.9 million drivers have not used their car at all because of the fuel shortage. Concerningly, Kwik Fit estimates 1.7 million drivers have missed work because of fuel problems, while 11 percent have cancelled social plans as a result of the shortages.

The study shows younger drivers have been hit hardest, with 62 percent of respondents under the age of 34 saying it had affected their plans. In comparison, just 38 percent of over-55s said they had felt the impact of the shortages.

Tesco petrol station in Swansea UK

However, the research also reveals a geographical split, with drivers in London and the south-east of England most likely to be affected. In the capital, 75 percent of drivers say they have been affected, and 54 percent of drivers in south-east England said the same. The east of England also suffered, with 61 percent of motorists saying they had been impacted.

In Scotland, however, the picture is altogether different. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of Scottish respondents said they had not been affected by the shortages, while 71 percent of drivers in north-east England said they had not felt the impact.

Kwik Fit’s study also found many drivers have changed their behaviour while driving, with 14 percent choosing to slow down in a bid to preserve fuel. Around 11 percent said they had replaced a car journey by travelling by bike or on foot, and eight percent had elected to use public transport instead.

“There have been differences of opinion over the causes of the fuel supply problems and how they could have been avoided, but it’s clear from this research that there needs to be a robust plan for the longer term,” said Kwik Fit’s communications director, Roger Griggs. “With half of all drivers being impacted by local shortages it’s going to be unsustainable for people’s work, family and social lives if these issues are repeated.”

Man making fuel pump payment at petrol station