PUB chain JD Wetherspoon has defended its decision to open a bar at a motorway service station.
And the pub group said it would not be checking if drinkers were planning to drive.
Flamboyant chairman Tim Martin said he hoped it would be the first of many such pubs on Britain’s motorway network.
It comes amid a Government consultation on lifting restrictions on alcohol sales at motorway service areas.
Wetherspoon’s has been granted permission for a 24-hour bar and restaurant at junction 2 of the M40 at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, which will have a licence to serve alcohol from 8am to 1am seven days a week.
The pub, which has yet to be given a name, is expected to be open by Christmas.
A spokesman played down the idea that the opening was likely to lead to drink-driving.
He said: “We don’t see any problem.”
The spokesman said much of Wetherspoon’s sales came from food and that it also served non-alcoholic and hot drinks.
“We believe the majority of people that use the pub to drink will be people that aren’t driving – coach parties or people travelling with others.
“We won’t be asking them whether they are driving. It’s up to them.”
He pointed out that motorway drivers were already able to purchase alcohol easily if they wanted.
The company said it had received no objections to the plans after meeting representatives from Thames Valley Police and South Buckinghamshire District Council.
It said the £2 million development with service area operator Extra would create 50 jobs.
Mr Martin said: “We are looking forward to opening our first licensed bar and restaurant on the motorway network.
“The company has always been innovative and this is an exciting new development for us.
“Hopefully it will be the first of many Wetherspoon's on the motorway.”
Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Most drivers are sensible, but you have to question a policy that encourages drivers to pull off to take a break and then offers them up a pint.”
However he pointed out that Home Office figures last year showed at least seven other service areas where alcohol was served. Some of these were apparently at hotels.
The Home Office has been consulting on a law currently banning the sale of alcohol at some motorway service areas.
A spokeswoman said: “The Government’s Alcohol Strategy consultation, which includes looking at the sale of alcohol in motorway service areas, closed on February 6.
“We will listen to all views and set out our response in due course.”
AS a mum with a very personal tragedy behind her, Carole Whittingham knows only too well the dangers of drink-driving.
She has campaigned tirelessly for tougher legislation for the past 20 years after a dreaded knock on the door.
It was the police, calling at her Brighouse home to tell Carole her son Steven had been killed in a smash involving a driver high on drink or drugs.
That tragedy sparked Mrs Whittingham into action and she set up a safety campaign group.
It was originally called CADD (Campaign Against Drinking and Driving) but has now become SCARD (Support and Care After Road Death). The name has changed but the message remains the same; Drink-driving kills and maims.
Her group plans to be at the forefront of a new campaign to prevent licensed bars being opened on the country’s motorway service areas.
She is appalled that pub chain J D Wetherspoon have been granted permission to open a bar on an M4 service area later this year.
“We have been inundated with calls since the news broke. A decision likes this means we are going back 50 years.
“An early service station on the M1 had a restaurant with a licence but everyone quickly realised it was a bad move, and we had legislation stopping drinking at our service stations.
“It beggars belief that we can now have drivers being offered alcohol while driving on our motorways.
“The majority of people on motorways are on long journeys and they need a comfort break, but if we put temptation in their way some will succumb.
“A huge number of accidents on our roads are caused by drink-driving and this type of proposal means we are spreading a terrible affliction affecting our society.
“In the perfect world, everyone would recognise the dangers of drinking and driving. But this is not a perfect world and we cannot allow everyone to police themselves.
“We need strict guidelines about what is acceptable behaviour and having a drink on a motorway is not acceptable.
“It makes me wonder how the authorities have allowed this to happen. Police used to have a big say on licences for pubs and bars but now that control has passed to local authorities.
“These licences do not come cheap and developers have to pay to set up these businesses. Most people who go to a motorway service area do so in a vehicle; they don’t attract walkers.
“It is nonsensical to put temptation in their way”.
A PUB on the motorway will prove a deadly temptation to drivers.
That’s the view of a Huddersfield road safety group in the wake of news of Britain’s first bar at a service station.
The pub chain J D Wetherspoon plans to open the bar on the M4 later this year.
But Laura Woods, a spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “The opening of a pub on the motorway is of real concern, posing a potentially deadly temptation to drivers.
“Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads, causing devastation to families and communities every day.
“We know there is widespread misunderstanding about the fact that even a small amount of alcohol has a significant impact on your ability to drive safely, so it’s desperately worrying that some drivers might think it’s okay to stop off for a quick drink on their way home, which could easily lead to tragedy.
“Research is clear that just one drink inflates your crash risk.
“That’s why our advice to drivers is if you are driving, don’t drink any amount of alcohol – not a drop”.
Brake urged drivers to pledge to not drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel this summer, as police across England and Wales began their month long summer drink and drug driving enforcement campaign.
The campaign sees forces stepping up roadside checks for alcohol and drugs and speaking to the public about the risks.
Last summer 83,000 drivers were stopped and breathalysed and 6% failed (or refused).
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Even very small amounts of alcohol increase your risk of crashing dramatically, yet every year thousands of drivers risk it, and too often this results in tragedy.
“We need everyone on board with the message that it’s none for the road, and if you do risk it, you will be caught.
“Police will be out in force over the next month spreading the message that drink driving kills and there is no excuse for it.
“We’re also urging the government to help end alcohol-induced carnage on our roads, and tackle confusion about what’s safe and what’s not, by lowering the limit to a zero tolerance level.”
A TRANSPORT expert claims the pub on a motorway idea “is sticking two fingers up at road safety”.
Prof Colin Bamford feels the plan by pub chain Wetherspoon’s to open on a motorway service area is seriously flawed.
And the University of Huddersfield transport and logistics expert pulls no punches when he analyses the shock move.
“It’s bad news. Just one drink for any driver is wrong.
“I stopped drinking myself as a driver when I was ferrying my children about and that was a personal decision I felt was right.
“You either drink or you drive; never the two.”
Prof Bamford believes there are strong commercial reasons for the Wetherspoon move.
He believes the pub chain – which has outlets in most town and city centres, including Huddersfield and Brighouse – has to find new locations.
He believes they have saturated the market in the town centres.
He also feels that they are targeting a captive audience with a move to the service stations – notably the crowds of football fans or holidaymakers on the hundreds of coaches that pull into the service areas every day.
“There is a vast untapped market there and I can see why they want to move in.
“My own personal view is that is simply profiteering and it is sticking up two fingers to road safety.
“Another issue is that even if the driver sensibly chooses not to drink and drive, it is possible passengers will. It is always better to have someone alert alongside the driver on long motorway journeys and people who have had a drink could well end up asleep or acting rather stupidly.
“In terms of road safety for us all, it is a very backward step. However you look at it, you will get vehicles on the roads that pose more of a risk”.
THE motorway service has area has been with British drivers for more than 50 years.
Ever since the first one opened at Watford Gap on the M1 in 1959, they have been used by millions of drivers.
But the plan for a pub on the M4 by pub chain J D Wetherspoon is a first.
They plan to open the bar before Christmas and hope to extend to other service areas in the future.
The vast majority of motorway services in the UK are owned by one of three companies: Moto, Welcome Break and RoadChef.
However, Extra are also developing a network of service areas including the one targeted by Wetherspoon’s.
Some service stations also have hotels next to them offering motorists cheap overnight accommodation and some do have bars.
There are now 108 service areas in the UK, including Hartshead Moor on the M62 and Woolley on the M1 near to Huddersfield.
Each month in Great Britain 23 people are killed and 108 people are seriously injured by drivers over the drink drive limit.
It is estimated that a further 65 people are killed annually by drivers who have been drinking, but are under the limit
In 2011, drink drive deaths caused by drivers over the limit increased by 12% and serious injuries increased by 3%
New government plans to streamline police procedures to make it simpler to prosecute drink drive offenders are to be introduced
Brake is urging government to lower the limit to 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood, an effective zero tolerance limit.
England and Wales have a drink drive limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, the highest in Europe.
Northern Ireland and Scotland announced plans to reduce their limit to 50mg, while in Northern Ireland novice and at-work drivers will have a zero-tolerance limit of 20mg.