Last orders at the car, please

Stopping at motorway services is always a strange experience. A soulless stop-off for all manner of motorists, service stations somehow manage to appear untouched by the hands of time, yet simultaneously trapped in the past. And it’s an experience that could be about to become all the more surreal for some motorists as England’s first motorway service station pub opens for business.
The Hope And Champion M40 pub
The controversial Hope and Champion pub, operated by the JD Wetherspoon chain and situated at services next to junction 2 of the M40 near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, is open from 4am until 1am and will be licensed to sell alcohol from 9am. So, is it one for the road (non-alcoholic, obviously) or will it prove to be the road to ruin?

One for the road...

Although the Hope and Champion will be located at Beaconsfield services, JD Wetherspoon insists it will also serve the local community – cheap Jaeger bombs down the motorway services on a Friday night sounds just the ticket - and is keen to point out it will be serving a wide range of cut-price non-alcoholic drinks, plus tea and coffee with free refills, until 2pm. So it could be an ideal stop off for any tired drivers needing a morning caffeine kick – remember, tired driving also represents a huge danger to motorists. And a spokesperson for the chain expects most sales of alcoholic drinks to come from passengers or those in organised coach parties. He admitted that, while offering drivers the chance to grab a pint off the motorway was unusual, the pub fully expect drivers to act responsibly and says there will be plenty of Drink Drive Awareness material on display. Unsurprisingly, road safety campaigners aren’t convinced.

…or the road to ruin?

Contrary to the claims made by JD Wetherspoon, public health experts and road safety charities are worried the availability of alcohol at motorway services will be too tempting for some drivers and could also blur the anti-drink driving message, reaffirming to some that it’s OK to get behind the wheel after the odd pint or two. Ed Morrow, campaigns officer at Brake, said: “The opening of a pub on a motorway is a serious concern, presenting 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 obvious as possible, so drivers know it’s not okay to stop off for a quick drink on their way home. Our advice is not to have a drop if you are driving.” Although we like to think we know our limits when it comes to drinking, there are so many variables that can increase or decrease our tolerance levels it’s impossible to know the effect even the one drink can have on our driving ability. So the best advice is to steer clear of any alcohol if you’ll be spending any time behind the wheel. And, as I found out when conducting an experiment (even if it did involve alcohol, it was still an experiment) for our own anti-drink driving campaign at Christmas, it doesn’t take a great deal of alcohol to put you, and keep you, over the legal limit.

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