Petrol and diesel consumption has dropped by a fifth since the start of the credit crunch, according to a new analysis by the Office of National Statistics.
The analysis shows households are struggling to cope with the near doubling of vehicle fuel prices in the past decade.
Spending on vehicle fuel per head per quarter increased from £84 to £130 from 2002 to 2008. Since then average spends have dipped, despite rising petrol prices, falling to a low of £103 in 2009.
ONS figures showed that the quantity of petrol purchased has fallen 18 per cent since 2007.
Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth said fuel efficiency and the economic crisis could not explain the long term decline in car journeys or a growing lack of appeal that motor vehicles held for young people.
He said: “There is strong and building evidence that car use has peaked not just in the UK but the US, France, Germany and other developed nations.
"The decline is most marked in younger people whose status is defined by different sorts of technology. They want iPads and iPhones rather than a car."
Mr Pendleton made the comments while speaking to The Independent.