The Army is to start delivering fuel to petrol stations within days, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed.
Around 150 military drivers have been on standby to start deliveries using military tankers, but the decision was taken today to deploy them in case the situation worsened, Kwarteng said.
He admitted the past few days had been difficult, but that the situation was stabilising.
The UK has around 80 reserve tankers and these will be moved from their current locations in Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire today to areas of need using civilian drivers.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) confirmed that things were improving slightly with 27% of its members reporting being out of fuel today against 37% yesterday.
Gordon Balmer, the PRA’s executive director, said: “There are encouraging signs that the crisis at the pumps is easing, with forecourts reporting that they are taking further deliveries of fuel.”
Balmer also criticised the level of abuse being aimed at staff working in petrol stations.
“We would urge the public to remember that fuel stocks remain normal at refineries and terminals, and deliveries have been reduced solely due to the shortage of HGV drivers.”
Earlier today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also attempted to reassure drivers about supplies, though one fuel supplier Portland Fuel, told the BCC that sending in the Army would “generate more panic”.
A lot of drivers had filled up now, he said, which might lead to a dip in demand anyway.
The number of car journeys has also dropped sharply since the crisis started with the number of trips recorded this week the lowest since 12 July.
Britain has been hit by a wave of panic-buying of petrol after a report last week that BP had shut some outlets due to a shortage of drivers to deliver fuel
Reports of long queues and even fights as people try to fill up have dominated the front pages since the weekend.
Ministers have said there is not a petrol shortage and that the behaviour of drivers is causing the crisis.
The UK is short of around 90,000 HGV drivers according to the Road Haulage Association, which has led to empty shelves and warnings that there will be shortages of some key products for months.