Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Truck Stops Here

It never fails. When Dearest Husband and I are taking a trip, I’m always the one who calls for a rest stop. I’ve got the locations of many rest areas committed to memory.

I know that the welcome center at Conway (I-44) has a springy surface under the play equipment. (It’s fun to walk on.) The Wright City (I-70) rest area was the first place I experienced a hands-free hand wash. At Eagleville (I-35), I gape at the amazing mosaic mural.

The truckers who share Missouri’s highways commit these locations to memory, too. They have to. Drivers are limited to a specific number of hours they can work before they must pull over to rest. If they don’t, they violate federal safety rules and take a hit to the wallet, so finding a place to park and rest is an important part of the job.

Imagine what would happen if suddenly, rest areas and welcome centers closed. That’s going on in some states that have budget issues. There, drivers have to spend time looking for a spot to stop before their work time is up for the day – giving up miles of progress to stay on the good side of the law.

It’s a different story in Missouri. During the past nine years, MoDOT increased truck parking spaces 45 percent. More are on the way. When rest areas and welcome centers are built, MoDOT tries to make room for as many truck/recreational vehicle spots as possible. When rest areas and weigh stations are decommissioned, paved areas are rechristened as truck parking areas.

Drivers know that there are a lot of good, safe spots to rest in Missouri. Here they can make productive use of drive time and reduce their costs.

So it turns out that what’s good for professional drivers is good for my pocketbook…and my traveling comfort!