Exclusive: Why high service station prices could be putting lives at risk
Rip off prices for food at motorway service stations may be putting lives at risk, an Autoblog investigation can reveal.
The AA believes the prices of simple lunches is so high it's putting drivers off stopping at all which could potentially lead to more fatalities on the motorways.
By hunting down local shops for sustenance instead of using motorway service station shops, we found drivers could cut their lunch bills in HALF.
Autoblog visited Fleet Services on the M3, run by Welcome Break, where we bought a sandwich, some sweets, a can of energy drink and a litre bottle of water. The bill came to a shocking £12.57 – with the water alone costing nearly double a litre of unleaded petrol at £2.10.
By driving just 5.7 miles further down the M3 and visiting the Tesco store in Hook – which is less than half a mile off the motorway – we managed to halve our lunch bill, paying just £5.89 for exactly the same goods.
The water was more than half price at just 81p. The Red Bull was £1 compared to £1.99, while a packet of 190g Jelly Babies cost nearly three times more at the motorway services at £2.75 compared to just a £1.
AA president Edmund King said the high prices were potentially DANGEROUS – as it put many drivers off stopping at all during long motorway journeys.
"We should be encouraging drivers to take a break and stop at the services as it is estimated that up to 20 per cent of motorway fatalities may be due to driver fatigue," he told Autoblog.
"There is no doubt that excessive prices mean that some drivers are reluctant to stop. Not taking a break can have fatal consequences.
"However, we do understand that motorway service areas have some additional costs as by law they must provide adequate toilets, free parking, rest areas etc. Some of the cost of these services is added to prices."
Autoblog found there are similarly placed superstores on average just 10 miles away from popular service stations on some of the country's biggest motorways.
There's a Tesco just 10 miles from the Northampton Services on the M1, while there are local shops a few miles off the M6 which drivers can use instead of Knutsford Services.
Anthony Chmarny, a spokesman for sat nav manufacturer Garmin, told Autoblog: "By using the thousands of points of interest in our sat navs, drivers can easily find local shops just a few minutes off the motorway where they could save money on food and beverages.
"If drivers are regular service stations users this could amount to hundreds of pounds worth of savings over a year."
Despite a request for a comment from Welcome Break – via their website and on social media website Twitter – the company failed to respond to Autoblog.
What do you think? Are drivers being ripped off in motorway service stations? Do you carry on instead of stopping because of high prices? Let us know by posting your comments below.