LOWER-income families in rural areas are being hit hardest by surging prices of petrol and diesel.
The AA said average fuel prices for petrol and diesel are at a record high across the country.
Unleaded petrol is now at 172.6c per litre in the State, with the average price of diesel now at 163.3c per litre, the highest since the AA started recording the figures in 1991.
These figures equate to a 27pc increase in petrol and a 28pc increase in the price of diesel fuel compared to this time last year.
The figures are in line with those from an in-depth national survey carried out by the Irish Independent recently.
AA Ireland head of communications Paddy Comyn said the high prices were hitting rural dwellers and low-income people hard.
“We are now seeing record high fuel prices in this country. It is very worrying for everyone, but especially lower-income families in rural areas who are unsure whether they will be able to afford fuel for their cars, or even heat their homes.”
A combination of factors has led to the increase in fuel prices globally.
Oil production plummeted during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide and has still not entirely recovered.
A barrel of oil recently reached $85 per barrel, but has since settled under $80.
Mr Comyn said that in Ireland, around two-thirds of the price motorists pay at the pump is tax and it can take two weeks for any reductions to reach the pumps.
“The cost of motoring in Ireland is ever-increasing and while there is a move to shift motorists into electric vehicles, it does appear to be at the expense of lower-income families and motorists. “
AA Ireland said funning a car was very expensive for families trying to budget and pay their mortgage, groceries and general expenses.
“People in rural Ireland rely on their cars. They don’t have the public transport infrastructure to support their daily lives,” added Mr Comyn.
He said it was also very frustrating for students who are trying to juggle fees, rent and now fuel for their vehicles, while often working part-time jobs.
“Prices are only going to continue to rise until something is done. Changes need to be made, particularly in the area of taxation.”
An in-depth national survey carried out by the Irish Independent last week found the average petrol price has soared to an all-time high of 172c a litre and diesel has risen to 163c.
The investigation was carried out over four days and involved analysing fuel prices at 260 service stations across the country.
Fuels for Ireland, which represents fuel suppliers, blamed the record prices on a “confluence of events”.
It said there has been a global energy supply challenge.
Kevin McPartlan of Fuels for Ireland there are global logistics problem getting things around the world. It is affecting everything, from children’s toys for Christmas to food distribution.
He added: “The Government has a really significant role to play. They are taking 60pc on average of the price of fuel.”
Mr McPartlan said that for we are on the very brink of €1 from every litre of fuel bought for transport going to the Government.