By Will Roberts
Low petrol prices are easing the pressure on drivers faced with a real-terms dip in earnings, according to new research.
The AA found that petrol prices are at a three-year low while diesel prices have not been as low since July 2012.
However, inflation has seen an average two per cent a year increase in earnings create an overall eight per cent decrease between 2009 and 2013, meaning that households are left with less money.
Wages are now at 2002 levels, once inflation has been accounted for.
Petrol averaged 129.46p a litre
On the forecourt, petrol prices averaged 129.46p a litre in mid March compared to 129.63p in mid February.
A year ago, the price was much greater, at 138.42p a litre.
Meanwhile, the average diesel price was 136.59p a litre in mid March compared to 137.02p last month. A year ago diesel was 145.24p a litre on average.
This week's Budget announcement saw Chancellor George Osborne freeze fuel duty.
Fuel duty freeze
Many other European countries, including France, Holland, Italy and Sweden, have seen increases in fuel duty.
According to the AA, there has also been a slight increase in the number of UK petrol stations.
For many years, petrol stations have been on the decline in the UK, but the recent figures will act as a boost to the industry.
The recent weather has also been kinder to both drivers and fuel retailers, with better conditions seen compared with the extreme cold and heavy snow of March 2013.
Business difficult for fuel retailers
AA president Edmund King said: "Appalling weather up until 10 days ago will have reduced car use and fuel consumption.
"However, official figures on inflation-hit earnings reveal a more persistent dark cloud hanging over the ability of UK drivers to use their cars. This is clearly making business difficult for fuel retailers too."
Nationally, the cheapest place to find petrol is Yorkshire and Humberside, where the the average price at the pump is 129.1p per litre.
Northern Ireland has fallen below 130p per litre like the rest of the country, but it is still the most expensive region.
London and the West Midlands are the cheapest for diesel, which is selling at an average of 136.3p a litre. Scotland has the most expensive diesel, at 137.3p.