Road Safety News
 

“One for the road” at the Hope and Champion

Tuesday 11th February 2014

Chris Fossey and colleagues in Warwickshire’s road safety team paid a visit to Britain’s first pub on a motorway service area – here’s what they found.

“M40 Beaconsfield Services - an ideal location for a ‘beery’ business lunch, stop off on the way to the match, or for folk who want a beer and a break from driving – thanks to a brand new Wetherspoons’ pub, the Hope and Champion, with a delightful range of real ales, spirits and wines.

“From a road safety perspective, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. Before our visit we had visions of two for one offers, a free pint with a meal, and other offers to lure the unsuspecting driver into a booze fuelled, drink drive frenzy.

“But the reality was altogether different.

“Think! Don’t Drink and Drive etched onto the windows, and a menu prominently reminding drivers that they ‘can’t calculate their alcohol limit: Don’t Drink and Drive’.

“The free pint with a meal offer, typical of Wetherspoons’ high street pubs, had been replaced with a free soft drink with every meal. The menu also contained a range of ‘mocktails’ to steer punters away from the booze.

“Alcohol-wise, beer, wine and spirits were all more expensive than a high street Wetherspoons, though still cheaper than most pubs: a pint of beer starting at £2.69 with premium lagers from £3.99.

“However, compare this to a 99p bottomless coffee and the temptation for most people will be cheap hot drinks - much cheaper, in fact, than the market leaders in this sector operating in the main food hall next door.

“So, with all these anti-alcohol measures, what was the impact on the customers?

“A brief unscientific lunchtime survey of the 40 or so customers revealed a couple with a pint and a half between them, and a table of businessmen each brandishing a pint. Hardly the booze-fuelled atmosphere we half-feared.

“Our overall impression is that the vast majority of drivers will not touch a drop of alcohol and will be happy to sip away at their coffee over a cheap lunch.

“Having said that, there is still quite a strong temptation for “under the limit drink driving”, whether attending a lunchtime business meeting or having a half over dinner.

“However, we believe that the vast majority of those taking advantage of the wide range of alcohol will be passengers, probably by the coach load.

“You can just imagine the rugby team enjoying a post match pint on the way home from the match, or stag and hen parties making a beeline for the services – a great place to get the Stag his first, or even tenth pint - on the way to the stag do.

“As road safety professionals, we cannot condone a driver having a pint and then hitting the motorway at 70mph. But unless or until there is a catastrophic event on the M40 which can be attributed to a “beering up” at the services, we’re sure that the ‘Hope and Champion’ will not be the UK’s first and last last motorway pub.”

Comments

Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

If as road safety professionals one can't condone any driver downing a pint and driving then why do we tolerate any drinking of alcohol at all?

The government, by not totally banning alcohol, have inadvertently enabled people to drink and drive. 40 years and more we have had this problem and it's about time zero was the limit. Then drivers can't make an accidental decision to have just one more for the road in the mistaken belief that they will be OK.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

I too thought the appraisal by the RSOs a little too light-hearted and seemed to be playing down the issue somewhat. Referring to the penultimate two paragraphs, whilst a driver may not have consumed any alcohol, having a coach-load of passengers having consumed "their tenth pint" does not bode well for a safe journey home. This news feed occasionally runs stories about the dangers of distractions to drivers - I would have thought this must come near the top of the list.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)
0

Nick:
I am looking it from the point of view of the general public and not the RSO. Using the wording as it has been reported plays into many people's perception that a little alcohol and driving is fine.

As the majority of drivers probably don't consume alcohol in a boozed up atmosphere nor do they go out for beering up, they can disassociate themselves from this and potentially rationalise their drinking and driving.
Keith

Agree (9) | Disagree (7)
+2

Keith:
I am surprised at your interpretation of this article. My view is that the RSOs approached this with concerns but an open mind and have been very balanced in their assessment of what they saw. For me, they recognise the potential dangers of a pub on a motorway service area, while also acknowledging the lengths Wetherspoons have gone to to highlight the dangers of drink driving, and to discourage customers from doing so.

I also refer you to the comment below yours, from the author Chris Fossey, who says: "From a road safety perspective mixing the offer of a pint so close to driving at high speeds on a motorway does not sit very comfortably."
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (13) | Disagree (2)
+11

The provision of alcohol in a motorway service environment can only increase the potential for actual incidents caused by alcohol consumption.

The comment "“A brief unscientific lunchtime survey of the 40 or so customers revealed a couple with a pint and a half between them, and a table of businessmen each brandishing a pint. Hardly the booze-fuelled atmosphere we half-feared" is almost suggesting that problems on the road will only result from alcohol fueled environments.

Followed by "But unless or until there is a catastrophic event on the M40 which can be attributed to a “beering up” at the services, we’re sure that the ‘Hope and Champion’ will not be the UK’s first and last last motorway pub.”

From a group of individuals who title themselves Road Safety Professionals it is almost verging on suggesting drinking alcohol as being a macho male domain. Along with inferring that limited alcohol intake is not an issue.
Keith

Agree (5) | Disagree (13)
-8

The other establishments are not signed on the motorway nor are we encouraged to take a break in them. I've used these services many times and was not actually aware of any other pubs on the road (although I don't doubt they exist). Most people using the services will be travelling through. A cheap meal and coffee is a real draw (I usually enjoy a Starbucks here)- it's just from a road safety perspective mixing the offer of a pint so close to driving at high speeds on a motorway does not sit very comfortably. Most people are of course responsible and the pub has clearly gone to great lengths to promote an anti-drink drive philosophy. However, there will be those tempted to have 'just a pint' before heading off. On a long journey any alcohol will exacerbate the effects of tiredness.
Chris Fossey (Author), Warwickshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)
+2

This is just up the road from me and, despite the pub being in the M40 services, it's not actually on the M40 as such, it's on the A355 (which has many other pubs, restaurants and shops selling alcohol).
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)
0