With the opening of Britain’s first motorway pub on the M40, road safety and motoring groups including the RAC and road safety charity, Brake, have been angered at what is seen as a dangerous temptation to drivers to drink and drive and have described the move as risky and unnecessary.
JD Weatherspoons has said that the pub will bring revenue and create jobs in the local area of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire and pointed out that the pub will also serve food and soft drinks. However, given the wide range of food and drink outlets already available, it is difficult to see any potential benefits to having pubs on the motorways other than increased revenue for the pub chain.
While some charities are campaigning for a zero tolerance approach to drink-driving, there are concerns that, by allowing this move, the Government may be sending out the wrong message which implies that 'just the one drink' is almost acceptable and unlikely to cause any harm. With the number of drink-driving related deaths increasing by a quarter to over 290 last year, nothing could be further from the truth. The dangers of drink-driving are still being ignored by too many and this latest step would appear to erode the message even further.
The move to open the pub on the motorway seems to be attracting disapproval from all corners, with it being reported that only one in eight people support the decision while almost two thirds (64%) are opposed to the move.
William Broadbent, associate in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “It begs the question as to why this has been allowed and what it hopes to achieve. We see first hand the devastating effects of accidents caused by drink driving. Our concern is that a motorway pub makes it too easy for drivers to stop in for ‘one drink’ and be tempted by more. Aside from the risk of them drinking more than permitted, our concern is that alcohol combined with tiredness may negate the benefits of drivers taking a break.”