In a poll of more than 13,500 motorists from all around the country the AA can reveal that 775 people, the equivalent of 5.4%, have made the error of leaving a petrol station forecourt without paying for their fuel. According to the poll’s accompanying comments section, the majority of motorists either realized their error shortly after the fact and returned to settle up a few minutes later or copped on to great embarrassment that they had forgotten their wallets after they’d filled up their tanks.
Of the remainder of motorists who let distraction get the better of them, a number indicated that they were almost half way across the country before they realized their mistake. While the rest admitted, much to their mortification, that their memory was refreshed by a call from the Gardaí. Slightly more men, 6.2% compared to 4.2% of women confessed to driving off with unpaid for fuel in their car.
“It seems amazing if you haven’t done it yourself but it happens to lots and lots of people.” Says AA Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “The overwhelming majority are completely honest but just made a foolish mistake in a moment of distraction. Sometimes a person is just too embarrassed to go back to the garage afterwards. Remember this only feels foolish when you feel like you are the only person who has ever done it. In fact is happens daily. We are all human beings and ever one of us makes mistakes.”
The AA can also report that embarrassing as the mistake is quite a few drivers have done it the other way around – paid for their fuel first and then driven off without putting it in their tank!
“We live in a world of distractions these days and it is simple to make a simple mistake.” Says Faughnan.
The AA also reports that putting the wrong fuel type in a car happens more often than most would believe. AA Fuel Assist, which is equipped to drain, flush and replenish a vehicle’s fuel system after an accidental misfuelling extracted 66,000 liters of fuel, mostly diesel from petrol engines, in Dublin within the last twelve months.
One red faced motorists even disclosed to the AA that they had accidentally driven off with the pump nozzle still in her tank having met someone they knew in the forecourt and completely zoned out on what they had been doing as a result.
While the cynics among the AA Motor Insurance Poll respondents were dismissive of such an act being unintentional many others felt it an easy mistake to make. Those whose absent mindedness got the better of them when filling up their tanks blamed a number of things such as chatting with a passenger, dealing with a car full of children, talking on their mobile phone, putting air in their tyres, a conversation with the shop assistant or the fact that they were going through a stressful time personally such as a death in the family on their slip up. One gentleman even stated during the AA’s Motor Insurance Poll that he had inadvertently skipped out on paying for his petrol on his wedding day.
“In the vast majority of genuine cases the customer will return to pay before the end of the day, unfortunately we do get a significant number of drive offs which are deliberate mostly involving false registration plates.” Says Paul Candon, Marketing and Corporate Services Director, Topaz Ireland. “In these instances the matters are reported to the Garda immediately and offenders are reprimanded and prosecuted.”
Notes to the editor;
Fig. 1 Response to question – “Have you ever driven away from a petrol station forecourt having forgotten to pay for fuel?” (Based on 13,668)
Fig. 2 Response by female participants to question – “Have you ever driven away from a petrol station forecourt having forgotten to pay for fuel?” (Based on 5,873)
Fig. 3 Response by male participants to question – “Have you ever driven away from a petrol station forecourt having forgotten to pay for fuel?” (Based on 8,235)
Fig. 4 Activities, respondents who have driven away and forgotten to pay for their petrol were doing at the time (Based on 772 responses)
|Chatting on your mobile phone||2.7%|
|Sending a text||0.6%|
|Using the internet on your Smartphone||0.3%|
|Talking to a passenger||8.5%|
|Programming a SatNav||0.3%|
|Checking a map||1.4%|
|None of the above||71.2%|
Fig. 5 Activities, FEMALE respondents who have driven away and forgotten to pay for their petrol were doing at the time (Based on 243 responses)
|Chatting on your mobile phone||1.2%|
|Sending a text||0.4%|
|Using the internet on your Smartphone||0.4%|
|Talking to a passenger||7.8%|
|Programming a SatNav||0.4%|
|Checking a map||0.4%|
|None of the above||77.0%|
Fig. 6 Activities, MALE respondents who have driven away and forgotten to pay for their petrol were doing at the time (Based on 510 responses)
|Chatting on your mobile phone||3.5%|
|Sending a text||0.8%|
|Using the internet on your Smartphone||0.2%|
|Talking to a passenger||9.0%|
|Programming a SatNav||0.2%|
|Checking a map||2.0%|
|None of the above||68.8%|