The primary purpose of Safety Rest Areas along interstates is crash prevention.
Drowsy driving is a major cause of crashes in Utah and nation wide. SRAs provide road users a place to take a rest break after traveling long distances.
Utah crash statistics indicate that seven fatigue related crashes occurred in the state in 2011. That number may be low considering that drowsy driving seems to be pervasive – a Utah Department of Public Safety poll indicates that 44 percent of respondents admit to falling asleep or nodding off while driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 40,000 injuries and more than 56,000 crashes each year in the US.
The National Sleep Foundation offers some advice on avoiding drowsy driving:
- Before a trip, get at least eight hours of sleep – 71 percent of drivers who reported falling asleep in the Utah poll got less than eight hours of sleep the night before the trip
- Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours and have a snack or go for a brisk walk or run
- Switch drivers during long trips
- Take a nap—SRAs provide safe place to take a short nap if necessary
UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety and many other organizations have partnered to promote ZERO Fatalities, a crash prevention effort that addresses five major causes of traffic related death: drowsy driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving, impaired driving and not buckling up.