The high tax has been compounded by a fuel shortage which has sent the price of crude oil soaring, leading Shell and Esso to increase prices by up to 2p a litre/9p gallon. Motorists are also angry at double taxation on fuel costs, with drivers and employers paying VAT on fuel duty, as well as on the cost of the fuel.
Maureen Allgood, UK fleet manager and international category manager for lease cars at electronics giant Philips, who is director of the council of members for the Institute of Car Fleet Management, said fleet bosses should take this chance to prove the worth of an in-house fleet manager.
She said: 'Fleet managers should take the opportunity to present ideas they have for the future of their fleets. You have a broader concept of what is going on around the fleet and how you should react.'
Leading fleet figures suggested immediate contingency plans should include informing drivers of the locations with the worst fuel shortages, encouraging them to car share, avoid non-essential journeys and warning them not to attempt illegal stockpiling of their own fuel.
Long-term plans should include reviewing fleet fuel policy, taking into account alternative fuels, creating a contingency plan in case of future disruption, encouraging use of public transport on long journeys, considering benefits of home working and teleconferencing and a greater focus on efficient fuel use.
Already many fleet managers are showing their mettle, with Simon Boggis, group fleet procurement manager for TNT UK, blocking fleet car drivers from using bunkered diesel fuel supplies to prioritise refuelling of delivery vehicles.
South Wales police said its bunkered supplies were healthy, while fleets relying on forecourts, such as North Wales's police fleet, were negotiating with petrol station owners to hold back fuel to keep their patrols on the move. Police fleets in Cleveland and North Yorkshire were also limiting patrols.
Hundreds of fleet motorists rang Lex Vehicle Leasing, while PHH Vehicle Management, which runs Britain's biggest fuel card Allstar, has launched a fuel crisis update on its website.