When you drive across Arizona, you can’t help but notice a lack of rest stops. Those that remain open tend to be crowded with semis and passenger vehicles as drivers take their much-needed (not to mention legally mandated) rest. At some exits in rural Arizona, drivers have created impromptu dirt parking lots by simply pulling off the road.
Granted, you can easily find a truck stop with all the amenities if you plan your trip ahead, and they’re frequent enough that you won’t be missing mandatory break periods. But there’s no denying there are fewer publicly maintained roadside areas than there used to be.
The demise of the rest stop has triggered nostalgia for Americana enthusiasts, but it’s also a serious road safety issue. Commercial drivers worth their salt plan ahead for breaks, but personal vehicle drivers might suddenly experience fatigue and not know where they can safely pull over. These are the drivers most likely to drift into your lane late at night, thinking that air conditioning and coffee can keep them awake.
In response, Governor Doug Ducey has proposed repealing a federal law so that the state can sell fuel at publicly maintained rest stops. Essentially, the Governor wants to create public-private partnerships to pour money into the state’s rest areas and capitalize off businesses operating on state land.
Like most political initiatives, this one stirs controversy. Truck stop operators argue that Ducey’s plan would hurt existing businesses that operate off the highway. The state’s rest stops would compete with private truck stops and, in some cases, displace them.
What do you think should happen with rest stops in Arizona? Let us know in the comments.