What Happens if I Run Out of Fuel on the Road?

Serena Aburahma
· 4 min read
Discovering that your fuel tank is on E without noticing is a nightmare for drivers everywhere. At worst, this could be an issue of
road safety
, and at best, it's inconvenient and embarrassing to run out of fuel. If you do find yourself out of fuel (or if you drive an EV, if you’re out of power and don’t know
where to charge your car
), what do you do? 
According to
Motoring Research
, it isn't illegal to run out of fuel. However, it can be dangerous, and drivers are encouraged to be more vigilant with monitoring their fuel.

What happens if you run out of fuel?

Motoring Research focuses on laws in the U.K. According to these laws, drivers are allowed to stop on the shoulder in the event of a mechanical breakdown or other vehicle issues. Among these potential issues is running out of fuel.
If you are driving and learn that you have run out of fuel, have you broken the law? 
Generally speaking, the answer is no, and if you run out of fuel, you are allowed to stop on the shoulder until the issue is resolved. Running out of fuel is, in a way, an emergency condition and drivers who are stopped because of this are not generally held liable.
However, it is still advised to avoid doing this if at all possible. Unlike an engine breakdown or other vehicle malfunction, drivers can easily prevent running out of fuel. Because of this, there are still legal risks to running out of fuel in addition to safety concerns.
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Potential penalties for running out of fuel

Even though running out of fuel on its own is not illegal, there are potential penalties that can come from doing it. Running out of fuel on major roads can be dangerous to other drivers. If there is an accident involving your stopped car after you ran out of gas, you could face fines and other penalties.
This is because law enforcement can treat running out of fuel as a form of careless driving. Knowingly driving with a low level of fuel or not realizing that you are driving with low fuel are seen as avoidable problems.

Tips to prevent it from happening

Even if running out of fuel may not be illegal on its own, it is something that should be avoided if at all possible. The easiest tip to follow is to stay aware of your fuel level and to prepare for going on the road. If you know that you are going to be on a long road trip, it’s never a bad idea to fill up at a gas station before hitting the highway.
It’s also important to not rely too heavily on your
miles-to-empty indicator
. This tool can help give an overall estimate for how much fuel you have left in the tank, but it’s not an exact figure. It may not take into consideration factors like whether you're driving on the highway or are stuck in traffic.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that it's better to be safe than take a risk when it comes to fueling up. Peace of mind while driving is never a bad thing, and this goes for car insurance too. If you're looking to change your car insurance plan, let
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