On January 21st
, well-known pub chain J D Wetherspoon opened the UKs first service station pub. The new pub, named The Hope and Champion, was given the go-ahead last year as part of a new 2 million pound development at Extras motorway service on junction two of the M40 in Buckinghamshire.
Needless to say, the move has caused some controversy with a number of organisations and regulatory bodies quick to brand the new pub as a potentially dangerous addition to the service station.
Spokesperson for the RHA, said that drinking and driving is bad mix, regardless of the size of the vehicle being driven: With the ever-increasing traffic numbers now seen on the motorway network, the idea of deliberately putting the temptation to drink in front of a driver is absolute madness, she said. A motorway can be a dangerous place and users must have their wits about them at all times; particularly in poor weather conditions.
These respite areas have always operated successfully without the need of an alcohol outlet why change that? Motorway service areas exist primarily to provide a place where tired drivers can stop safely to take a restÂ not a pint, she added.
In response, a spokesman for J D Wetherspoon told Commercial Motor
that if a driver is determined to drink they will do so regardless of whether a pub is nearby. We are a responsible pub operator, but customers have to be responsible too, he said. The police never objected to this pub opening and you can get alcohol fifty meters away in Marks and Spencers anyway. I dont think were putting drivers in danger at all. Our alcohol prices are far more expensive than those found in any of our other pubs and the soft drink prices are much cheaper. There arent any of the drinks promotions that we run in other pubs, so theres no signage for them. But the main thing, we believe, is that our staff is well trained and they can make sure that people are not drinking more than they should be.
However, the RHA is not alone in slamming the move. Notably, the independent road safety charity, Brake, believe that the temptation to drink and drive will prove too great for some.
Ellie Pearson, Brake Spokesperson, said: "The opening of a pub on a motorway is deeply concerning as it presents a potentially deadly temptation to drivers. Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our road, causing devastation to families and communities every day.
It is vitally important that messages about the dangers of drink driving are as strong and clear as possible, so drivers know that it's not okay to have even a single drink ahead of getting behind the wheel. Research clearly shows that even small amounts of alcohol can be lethal if you're driving, so our advice to drivers is simple: never drink any alcohol if you're driving not a drop."
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