Landline Magazine, the official publication of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, reported on how the Virginia Department of Transportation is currently handling the balance between upholding a law against sleeping at rest stops and preventing truck accidents due to fatigued drivers.
The article states that 20 years ago, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board passed a law limiting rest stop stays to two hours. However, although this law prevents motorists from sleeping in the rest stop areas, it also means that tired trucks - truckers who are legally barred from driving after a certain number of hours - are often forced back onto the road.
Although some say that the Virginia State Police have been told to ignore the law when it comes to fatigued truckers, truck drivers in the area report getting ticketed and even forced back onto the highway despite their lack of rest. A spokesperson from the Virginia State Police advised that truckers plan ahead and get a room when they are tired.
Back in the year 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended to all states like Virginia that they take the two-hour limit off the books so that only alert drivers are on the road. However, the old laws still persist today. In addition, inadequate parking for truck drivers persists along two of the states main trucking corridors, Interstate 95 and Interstate 81.
"We are at a point where we are looking to see what we can revise in the administrative code," said Martin Krebs of VDOT. "We exist to reduce roadside fatality and accidents, and people need to have access off the interstates to rest to avoid fatigue-related accidents."
On the other hand, Landline has reported that a number of truckers had contacted the publication saying that Virginia State Police had woken them from their sleep and asked them to leave the public rest area - whether they were rested and prepared to drive safely or not.