Service stations are set to provide better facilities and raise their standards, according to the Highways Agency.
The Agency has published a new policy that sets out what it expects service area operators to provide, from parking to toilets, as well as making it easier for them to improve their services.
The policy applies to all of England's motorways and major A-roads, and its aim is to give drivers greater choice and raise standards.
It will also introduce an independently reviewed grading system, similar to the one used for hotels, to review service areas and ensure that standards are maintained or raised.
The main areas of the policy include:
• Making service areas more sustainable. Service areas should become coach interchanges and park-and-ride facilities to cut the number of single-occupancy cars on the road;
• Assessing developments so that service stations don't become destinations in their own right. Retail space will be restricted for the same reason;
• Providing overnight parking facilities for caravans and motorhomes;
• Allowing the use of lay-bys on trunk roads for trading;
• Ensuring there are parent and child facilities;
• Creating access for disabled road users;
• Providing and upgrading picnic areas.
Additionally, new sites with very limited facilities could appear between existing service stations to provide more rest areas, which should help reduce accidents caused by tired drivers.
Roads minister Tom Harris said: 'We are committed to providing and encouraging better services for road users. We're also seeking to raise standards through an independent quality scheme and want to see service areas become more sustainable.'