Fatigue-related crashes were more likely to occur when rest areas were 20 miles or more from the crash site. Photo from NIOSH.
Rest areas are a welcome sight on a long-distance road trip. For commercial truck drivers in need of a safe place to park, stretch, and sleep, rest areas are not only a welcome sight, but an essential part of a safe and healthy workplace.
In fact, research indicates that driver fatigue may contribute to a significant number of commercial truck crashes. Yet, little information is available about whether rest areas, including truck stops, can help decrease the number of fatigue-related crashes. Accordingly, a NIOSH-funded study at the University of Kentucky compared the number of fatigue-related crashes to those caused by other factors, such as distracted driving, in connection to the proximity of truck stops and other rest areas. Nationwide, Kentucky was among the bottom half of states in terms of the number of parking spaces for commercial trucks, according to the Federal Highway Administration in 2015.
Compared to crashes related to other human causes, fatigue-related crashes were more likely to occur when rest areas were 20 miles or more from the crash site. Fatigue-related crashes also occurred on parkways more often than on interstates and were more likely to occur at night and on dry pavement, according to the study published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention.
The researchers obtained records on commercial vehicle driver crashes occurring from 2005 to 2014, using data from the Kentucky Collision Report Analysis for Safer Highways (CRASH) system, which is maintained by the Kentucky State Police. They then mapped these locations in relation to rest areas, weigh stations, and truck stops. For this part of the study, they used listings from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the ArcGIS Business Analyst 2015, which is a computerized system of geographic information.
Already, the study’s findings have led to efforts to increase the number of parking spaces for trucks on Kentucky’s interstates and parkways, according to the investigators. In addition, the findings could help inform efforts by other states to improve truck stops and other rest areas.
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