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Motorway fuel price comparison signs given the go-ahead

The government will begin trialling motorway signs that show the cost of fuel at stations along a driver’s route. Motorists will be able to see fuel prices of upcoming service stops in the direction of travel, allowing them to bypass particularly expensive petrol stations for cheaper alternatives. 

A similar service is already in use in France.
A similar service is already in use in France.

The move comes in the wake of an Office of Fair Trading investigation in 2012 that found motorway service stations were on average 7.5 pence more expensive than off-motorway forecourts. That may not sound like much, but filling up a 60-litre tank would cost you an additional £4.50 every time.

The report did admit the cost of running a motorway service station was higher, but it argued it was unfair that drivers have to drive all the way in to check fuel prices.

“The problem on the motorway is that the fuel prices are only advertised on the forecourt,” a Downing Street source explained back in March of this year. “That is the legal requirement. But by the time you’ve pulled off the motorway and stopped, it is often more trouble than it’s worth to go on to the next service station, particularly as you’ve got no idea whether it will be any cheaper.”

By highlighting petrol prices for all to see, it’s hoped competition will help bring rogue service stations back into check ─ although a spot of price fixing could always occur, undoing the usefulness of the signs.

“We have been pushing for this for some time,” AA president Edmund King said. “We used the example of France where they show you this on the autoroute. It means you can look for the best price at the start of the journey.”

The Department for Transport will begin by trialling the new motorway signs, which are still undergoing their design. If successful, they will become a regular feature on UK motorways.

Until then, you could always check out our tips to save fuel and stick to filling up at supermarkets while they engage in a petrol price war.


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