The force has been hit with spiralling costs that could have topped £50,000 in the past year from drivers putting the wrong fuel in vehicles - mainly through petrol being put into diesel vehicles, which make up about 68% of the fleet. John Bradley, the force's fleet manager is concerned the cost of the damage could rise as new high pressure direct injection diesel vehicles join the fleet and is trying to win support for change from fuel companies.
His proposals include changing the design of diesel nozzles - although this is likely to prove impossible because it would mean adapting all current diesel vehicles - marking the fuel hoses and nozzles in a much more obvious way, or using microchips to ensure pumps 'recognise' they are about to fill the wrong kind of vehicle.
The AA is currently compiling figures on its call-outs for the year 2000, but in the previous year it had 38,102 call-outs to misfuellings, with a 28% rise in mistakes from diesel drivers. The RAC had 10,863 such call-outs last year.
The main cause of the problem, the AA says, is confusion at the pumps, including some forecourts putting adverts for petrol vehicles on diesel pumps, while 'green' diesel pumps may be mistaken for the traditional green of unleaded petrol pumps.