Swanswell’s concerned about impact of motorway pubs

21 January 2014

Swanswell’s concerned that the opening of the UK’s first motorway pub may pave the way for more service stations offering alcohol at the roadside.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to news this morning that a pub chain has opened a bar and restaurant at junction two of the M40 at Beaconsfield (BBC News).

It’ll be open from 4am until 1am seven days a week and will serve alcohol from 9am, after receiving approval from the local licensing authority.

However, Swanswell’s worried that making alcohol available in pubs at service stations will tempt drivers to have a drink before getting back behind the wheel.

280 people were killed in drink drive-related accidents in the UK in 2012, accounting for around one in six of all road deaths – an increase of 17% compared to the previous year (240 deaths in 2011).

While there are strict limits in the UK around alcohol use before driving, it’s not possible to say how much someone can drink and still stay below the limit.

Alcohol affects people in different ways and many factors influence how quickly alcohol’s processed by the body such as weight; age; sex; and metabolism; as well as the type and amount someone’s drinking; what they’ve recently eaten; and stress levels at the time.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘The opening of the first motorway pub is another worrying example of how alcohol is so embedded in everyday life.

When it comes to travel, you can already buy alcoholic drinks on a train, before and during a flight, and from petrol stations, but in most of these cases, you’re either not driving or you’re buying it to take home.

However, in a pub, you’re buying alcohol to drink at that moment in time, and if you’ve had a long, stressful journey, some motorists might be tempted to have one or two before driving again, unaware of the consequences.

Drinking any amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel will have an impact on your ability to drive safelyputting your life and the lives of your passengers, other road users and pedestrians at risk.

So we really hope the opening of the first motorway pub in the UK is not a sign of things to come. If it is, then we need to find new ways of educating people and emphasising that the only way to be sure that you’re not over the limit, is not to drink at all if driving.’

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