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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rest Areas are Closing

The summer is approaching! Are you planning to get into your car or RV and see the sights America has to offer? Will you go north, south, east or west?

It does not seem to matter in which direction you go because many states are having financial problems causing budget deficits and in order to save money, have decided to close rest areas on some of the highways.

It now becomes important to check the states you plan to visit and see if the rest areas are going to be available. You do not want to be surprised if suddenly there is a sign on the road "Rest Area Closed."

Why are rest areas important? They allow you as a traveler to pull off the roadway, use the restrooms, stretch your legs, walk your dog, if they travel with you, water horses, if that is why you are on the road, eliminate any drowsiness, give your eyes a rest, get a drink, pick up a tourist pamphlet, look at a map and get back on the road. They also are well lit, so it is a safer place to pull off if you need to shut your eyes and nap for a few minutes, especially if you are traveling at night, in rain, or in sun glare.

With less rest areas available there can be more highway crashes because people may just pull over to the side of the road. This can also impact nearby gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants who are concerned about travelers and truckers that have to pull off the roadway and take up parking spaces when they stop only to sleep and use their facilities.

We are always taught to be sure to use well lit areas when stopping. If there is no place to stop it can be dangerous and hazardous for drowsy and distracted drivers to just park along the side of the road.

Although, there has been closing of rest areas in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Vermont, Colorado, and South Carolina, Virginia has reopened most of the ones that they had closed , there are other states that might just be cutting back on staff, hours and services. In spite of this, Iowa and Texas are using some stimulus money to replace older rest areas with new ones. Texas is also adding internet kiosks and wi-fi access. The Florida Turnpike is not planning any closures at present, they have 8 service areas that are placed at intervals of approximately 45 minutes apart that provide food, fuel, car repair and towing service to the turnpike customers. They allow drivers to rest on long distance trips to avoid fatigue, this helps to keep this roadway as one of the safest.

If your plans take you to either Alaska or Hawaii, be aware that they have no rest areas at all.

Your mottos for any travel - "Be Prepared" and "Plan Ahead" - seem to be important this year so that you can be safe while on the roads.

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