Pub chain JD Wetherspoon have announced plans to open their first motorway pub at service stations on the M40, after being given the go ahead for services at Junction 2, near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
The pub will be open 24 hours and will have a licence to serve alcohol from 8am-1am seven days a week. It is expected to be open by Christmas, and JD Wetherspoon freely admit that they will not be asking whether customers are driving before serving them.
Public reactions have fallen into two extreme camps – firstly, the people who are horrified at the prospect and see it as a truly reckless decision, and then those who are pleased with the news and see it as no problem at all.
“If you can’t trust yourself to resist drinking when you’re driving, you shouldn’t be driving!” I saw someone write on a social networking site, and that tends to sum up the attitude of the people who are pleased about the announcement.
There will be lots of people who will enjoy a drink in the pub quite safely – passengers, stag and hen parties and sporting teams being ferried around in minibuses, lorry drivers who have parked for the night and want a drink with their evening meal.
But what about the binge drinkers, the other side cry? The alcoholics and the idiots?
What the public don’t realise is that those people are a small minority, and that any dedicated alcoholic has been finding creative ways to drink mid-journey for a long time.
Will the introduction of a motorway pub lead to an increase in drink driving incidents?
My concern with these plans is that the most common problematic scenario is being ignored, as people either imagine all-day drinkers then getting behind the wheel, or focus on being allowed a glass of red when it’s the Mrs’ turn to drive.
Somewhere in the middle, is the ordinary person my firm represents every day, who is a good person of a responsible nature, who makes a misjudgement.
This person is not a binge drinker, an alcoholic or an idiot – there are fewer of those around than you’d imagine.
What there are a lot of, though, is people who can make a mistake. People who may decide to have a leisurely few drinks over dinner, lunch, or a business meeting. People who will say ‘yes’ to that extra drink that puts them over the limit. Lorry drivers who relax with a few beers after a particularly stressful day, then set off the next morning still over the limit. People who are passengers and decide to have a couple to drink – only for their designated driver to begin to feel ill and ask them to take over the driving. People who are sharing the driving on a long journey and decide they’ll be ok to have a couple as it’s not their turn to drive again for a couple of hours.
These people are my concern.
People just like me, and you.
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