The number of motorists breaking down as a result of running out of fuel increased to 827,000 in 2014, up 50,000 on 2013, an insurer has found.
LV= said the price of fuel led to many motorists "getting into bad habits". In a survey of more than 2,000 people, 54% admitted to having "purposefully driven past" a petrol station when they needed to fill up in the hope of finding cheaper fuel elsewhere.
Some 67% said they never filled their tank to the top, with 30% admitting to filling up "as little as £5" to get by.
LV= said drivers gambled on covering extra miles after the fuel light had come on. Some 536,000 motorists admitted to ignoring the fuel light, another 267,000 did not notice it was on, and most drivers were more concerned with other issues than running out of fuel, such as traffic jams, heavy rain and getting lost.
Drivers also overestimated the amount of fuel left in the tank. One in four (24%) believed they could drive more than 40 miles after the light had come on. The insurer said if motorists were driving half of UK's most common car models, they would break down. For instance, a Vauxhall Astra could break down 26 miles after the light illuminated.
John O'Roarke, managing director of LV= Road Rescue, said: "Having to buy expensive motorway fuel can be frustrating, but if it saves you the stress of running out of petrol and potentially causing damage to your engine then it's worth the cost.
"Roadside assistance is there to help should a motorist find themselves in a sticky situation - but being diligent with topping up soon after the light comes on will help to avoid the headache that a breakdown can bring."
Ranking in terms of popularity, car model and distance left in the tank after the petrol light comes on:
1. Ford Fiesta - 37 miles
2. Vauxhall Corsa - 29 miles
3. Ford Focus - 40 miles
4. Volkswagen Golf - 42 miles
5. Nissan Qashqai - not currently available
6. Vauxhall Astra - 26 miles
7. Volkswagen Polo - 39 miles
8. Audi A3 - 42 miles
9. Mercedes-Benz C-Class - 46 miles
10. Mini Cooper - 45 miles