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Anger over motorway service charges

  • Campaign suggests that almost 20 percent of accidents are sleep-related
  • MP hits out at parking charges at motorway services
  • Drivers need to take regular breaks on long journeys

MP David Davies and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) have hit out at charges imposed by private firms on motorists who stop for more than two hours to avoid falling asleep at the wheel at motorway service stations.

A call has been made to the government to change its policy on the two-hour free parking limit, which service station operators have to comply with. Davies, who previously worked in the haulage industry as a continental lorry driver, argues that drivers should be allowed to rest properly instead of opting to go back on the road to avoid having to pay hefty fees.

“Charging large amounts of money to park could be increasing the risk of accidents caused by driver fatigue, There is no justification whatsoever for making a charge. It is bad enough that motorists pay over the odds to buy a coffee or snack at a service station without the worry of paying vast charges for taking forty winks. Limiting parking time at motorway service stations is clearly contrary to the main reason for their existence – to provide rest stops.”

While the Government encourages drivers to take regular breaks as part of its key objectives on motorway service areas, the IAM would like the campaign to receive financial backing from them.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Service areas are meant to be about safety and taking a break on a long boring journey. All too often these days they are more about selling things at inflated prices to a captive audience.

“The two hour parking rule leaves many drivers confused and worried that they may inadvertently go over the time limit if they stop for a break, which is not a good recipe for safer motoring,” he added.

Through its THINK! campaign the Department of Transport suggests that almost 20 percent of accidents on major roads are sleep-related and that sleep-related accidents are more likely than others to result in a fatality or serious injury.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) information suggests one fifth of accidents on motorways and other monotonous types of roads may be caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel.