i Deputy Editor's Letter: One for the road


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The Independent Online


With pubs closing around Britain at a rate of almost 20 a week, the opening of a new establishment should be greeted with a round of drinks and the chinking of glasses. But when the watering hole in question is located in a motorway service station, it’s harder to raise a toast to its success.

The M40, stretching between London and Birmingham, is 89 miles long and it should take just over one-and-a-quarter hours to drive from one end to the other (traffic and roadworks permitting). But that, apparently, is too long for us to last without the offer of an alcoholic drink – a whole new definition of “one for the road”.

The manager of the Hope and Champion, which will serve alcohol between 9am and 1am, seven days a week, says the new venue will also serve the local community. Quite frankly, I can think of better places to go than junction two for a quiet pint and catch-up with your mates. The pub simply gives the message that it’s OK to stop off for a quick drink during the drive home. Most drivers know when to refuse an alcoholic drink, but there is a grave danger that it will provide a deadly temptation for those too weak of mind to say “no”.

Granted, you are not necessarily above the drink-driving limit if you have a pint of beer or glass of wine. But this is not just about breaking the law. Reaction times and perception of danger are affected even after a small amount of alcohol. Cue blokes (and it is mostly men) guffawing, claiming it doesn’t affect them “because they’re bigger” and they can “take their drink”.

Soft drinks will be sold at a discount, but how about a free breath test, courtesy of Her Majesty?


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