Been driving on the dull, grey motorway for hours? Then it’s a good idea to take a break. Thankfully, most motorway service stations let you park for up to two hours for free. But what happens if you want to stay longer?
Everyone agrees that driving when you’re over-tired is dangerous. So is it wrong to penalise those people who take a break for too long at motorway services?
Well, the Highways Agency is now proposing that drivers who overstay the mandatory two-hour free parking period should be allowed to pay for the extra time rather than incurring a fixed fine. Currently, these fines can be as high as £100.
However, a number of service stations already allow you to buy a third hour of parking. However, the present rate of £8 at a service station in the Hampshire town of Fleet seems pretty steep to me. It costs just 40p per hour to park close to the local Marks & Spencer, but if you outstay your welcome at the M3 services down the road, you’ll end up paying 20 times that amount.
Maybe the Highways Agency can convince the service stations to charge a more reasonable price. After all, if you pull off the motorway, there are numerous places to park up for free.
Destination: service station
Maybe more motorway services should take a leaf out of the award-winning Tebay service station’s book, and become a destination in their own right. The independent, family-run M6 stop in the Lake District serves up homemade food and has gift and clothing shops that all sell local wares. It provides such a contrast to other service stations, that I know of people who plan UK driving holidays around stops there.
Hoping for more services like Tebay may be wishful thinking, but to me, more affordable parking at current sites doesn’t seem like too much to ask. Have you ever been charged a high price for parking at a service station?