Plea to Chancellor over fuel duty
Rising fuel duty is splitting the country into the "drives and the drive-nots", according to the AA.
It said lower-income and rural drivers are losing mobility faster than better-off motorists as motoring taxes rise.
The AA is now urging Chancellor George Osborne to revert to the old system of setting annual fuel duty, which takes into account current economic and social conditions and not the "automatic turning of the screw based on inflation".
The AA said that earlier AA/Populus surveys of AA members showed that less well-off drivers had suffered more since the price of fuel peaked at 137.43p a litre for petrol, with diesel at 143.04p. Petrol has since remained within 3p of that record.
A May 2011 survey of 11,548 members showed that those cutting back on car use, other spending or both rose dramatically with lower income.
Also, a poll of nearly 16,000 in July this year "exposed the knife-edge that lower-income drivers endure budgeting on a set amount on fuel".
Of the 28% who say they spend a set amount on fuel, the impact of pump prices which were 16p-18p a litre higher than a year before showed it was the poorer motorists who were being hit the most.
In a letter to Mr Osborne, AA president Edmund King said: "The private car is, for most people, a necessity not a luxury. It is their means to a job, healthcare, doing the shopping, visiting relatives and friends, and also for improving the quality of their lives.
"We were disappointed that the January fuel duty rise went ahead at a time of rising oil prices and higher VAT. The AA firmly believes that business and households should be given a break from the annual cycle of fuel duty increases."
Mr King continued: "Motorists do not understand the logic of high fuel duty rises which further increase RPI and force demand down at a difficult time for family and business budgets which need mobility to stay afloat. Although we fully recognise the need to balance the books we also believe the time has come for activity to be stimulated through lower pump prices."