Relax, there is no shortage of fuel in Rugby - and you will cause harm if you try to stockpile

There is plenty of fuel, please don't cause traffic jams by being silly

Not a picture of queues at a petrol station.

Like a virus, panic is contagious and, equally like a virus, it can be extremely dangerous.

Days ago BP closed a very small number of its fuel stations because a driver shortage had been affecting deliveries.

This was effectively a non-issue. It would mean inconvenience for some because they might have to drive to an alternative station.

There is no shortage of petrol or diesel in this country so, left alone, this problem would have sorted itself out.

But our dear friends elsewhere in the media spotted a whopper of a story and, with no sense of community spirit or social responsibility, many national outlets went on the attack - spreading fear and panic over nothing.

Clearly, many elements of the media had not learned their lesson over the loo roll pandemonium of 2020 - despite social scientists directly telling the media that they play a huge part in spreading fear and causing panic buying.

And so the inevitable happened - some people saw the worrying headlines and they started going out and brimming their tanks because they falsely believed the supply of fuel would interrupted.

Then came the images and videos of vehicles queuing at stations - a journalist's dream come true.

It's a story that's guaranteed to do well because we are all hard-wired to seek out any information on a potential threat to our wellbeing or security.

Then - as social scientists repeatedly warned journalists about - publishing those images of queues made people even more frightened.

So more went out to panic buy.

This effect hit Rugby yesterday, with some residents deciding to go bonkers and cause tailbacks at some fuel stations in the town.

We know of one station which has temporarily had to shut because of this silliness - but the vast majority of stations are still open and serving fuel, and they will continue to be able to do so.

Why? Because (you're probably recognising a theme here) there is no shortage of fuel in this country.

The issue here is that when people descend on fuel stations out of panic they cause delays - and these delays mean that emergency services, medical staff and other vital workers are delayed.

Delays like these can cost lives.

So if you need to top-up as you normally would, by all means do it .

But if you are thinking of Mad Max-ing it to the nearest petrol station to brim your tank as if the apocalypse is upon us - please don't.

Not only will you know that you're a scaredy-cat who falls for alarmist nonsense - you will also have to live with the fact that you are actively harming other people.

Want to learn more about the phenomena of panic buying, and how to fight against it? Have a look at this: www.open.edu/openlearn/health-sports-psychology/psychology/panic-buying-and-how-stop-it