Two prominent trucking associations – the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Virginia Trucking Association (VTA) – praised Gov. Bob McDonnell’s initiative to re-open all currently closed rest areas by April 15, according to 

truck, trucker, rest area, injury, attorney, wreck, crash, attorneyBoth groups cited the safety risks associated with a lack of rest stops, especially for commercial truckers who may need a break after driving for hours on end.

“Closing these rest areas last year potentially decreased highway safety for both the motoring public and truck drivers alike,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.

Gov. McDonnell said, “The darkened rest stops … left truckers and families without safe and secure areas at which they could get a break from the road, increasing the potential for accidents.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports more than 750 people die and 20,000 more are injured every year due to fatigued commercial truck drivers. The risk of a wreck effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving, according to 

In addition, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reports truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in as many as 30 to 40 percent of all commercial truck wrecks.

These statistics would indicate that having better rested truckers on the roads could lead to a decrease in truck crashes. Will re-opening the rest areas ensure this result? No one really knows for sure, but hopefully having more rest areas open will produce positive results.

The next challenge will be to keep a steady stream of funding for the rest areas to remain open while still trying to shore up a $4 billion state budget gap.