What happens if I run out of fuel while driving and can I be fined?
MANY drivers will at some point have panicked about filling up when they're on the road if their fuel levels are getting low.
But running out while driving could be dangerous – for you and your wallet – and here's why.
What happens If I run out of fuel while driving?
A light comes on in most vehicles indicating the tank has 10% to 15% left.
Running out of fuel while driving is not only a major inconvenience but it can also be incredibly dangerous.
If you get stranded in the middle of the road, you are putting yourself, your passengers and other road users at serious risk.
It can also cause substantial damage to your vehicle and leave you with huge repairs bills.
This is because your fuel pump can suck in the dirt from the bottom of the tank, clogging it up and leaving it needing to be replaced.
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But aside from the physical and financial dangers, finding yourself without any fuel can be punishable by law.
Causing an obstruction with a car that is out of fuel is an offence under the careless and inconsiderate driving penalty.
Can I be fined?
While running out of fuel itself is not an offence, drivers can face large fines as a result of the consequences.
Stopping in the road can see you slapped with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.
More serious cases, such as causing an accident, could mean you are forced to go to court where you could land a much more severe penalty.
Motorists charged with careless driving face unlimited fines – though these usually do not exceed £5,000 – and up to nine penalty points.
Another expense could also come in the form of hefty settlements.
This is because most car insurance policies are unlikely to cover for accidents caused by running out of fuel.
Does the AA charge you if you run out of fuel?
You may have to pay for the cost of having your vehicle recovered from the roadside as insurers and breakdown providers often won't cover it.
The AA however does not charge members if they run out of fuel.
A spokesperson said: "Running out of petrol’s no problem.
"We’ll be there in a jiffy, and we’ll give members enough fuel to get them back on their way, for free.
"If a member has an accident, we help get them back on the road, support them through a claim and even provide a hire car at no extra cost."
The RAC will also come to help if you run out of fuel, but whether you need to pay for this will depend on your level of breakdown cover.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Research, said: "We have very little sympathy for drivers who run out of fuel on the motorway.
"There is no excuse for entering a motorway with low fuel or if you know something is wrong with your car.
"A breakdown puts you and your passengers at very high risk – many fatal crashes on a motorway involve a stationary vehicle.
"The hard shoulder, where it exists, is a very dangerous place to be with HGVs often weaving off course and crossing the solid white line.
"If you have to be rescued you are also putting the recovery operator at risk and if you don’t have breakdown cover you could pay several hundred pounds for emergency fuel or towing to a safe place.
"The government could help by reducing the price of fuel at motorway service areas but fundamentally it is always the drivers personal responsibility to ensure their car is fit for high speed driving on our premium network."
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