CALGARY, Alta. — Three of four Alberta-based rest stops originally targeted for closure will now remain open, according to the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA). The AMTA, which has been lobbying the province to keep turnouts open, received the news in a recent meeting with Alberta Transport.
“We are delighted that Alberta Transport had responded to AMTA to make available places where professional drivers and other motorists can pull over and rest,” says AMTA executive director Don Wilson. “Providing places for all drivers – especially commercial transport drivers – to pull over and rest is a vital component of any fatigue management program and compliance of load security rules.
The rest stops previously slated for closure that will – for now – remain open are at the following locations: south of Olds; southbound, just north of Hwy. 11; and northbound, just south of Red Deer. The two southbound rest stops will be reviewed by Alberta Transport to see if signage and pavement can be improved to enhance safety, while the northbound site may be relocated as Alberta Transport searches for a safer location. A fourth site (southbound, opposite the Sports Hall of Fame, Red Deer) is still slated for closure.
Alberta Transport says it wanted to close these roadside rest stops because it has concerns over collisions taking place when vehicles merge on and off the highway.
AMTA officials say while they support steps to make accessing rest stop areas safer, they believe there are risks associated with the province failing to provide adequate areas for all motorists to rest and where proper load security checks can take place.
“Providing all road users with places to pull over and take rest breaks when they feel fatigue coming on, is the foundation of keeping the roads safe,” says Dan Duckering, president of Duckering’s Transport, who attended the recent meeting with Alberta Transport.
“While we recognize that the best scenario for all Alberta motorists is the commercial rest areas that allow people to get completely off the road, removing the existing rest areas in the interim, as was proposed, will inevitably increase the number of fatigue related incidents. There are many professional drivers behind the wheel who have driven 25 or more years accident-free. Their safe driving record is due, in part, to knowing when they need to pull over and rest. Removing places for them to park their big rigs makes the roads less safe for transport drivers and those with whom they share the road.”
“Professional transport drivers are among the safest drivers on our roadways because they are in tune with their circadian rhythm,” says Rocky Downton of Downton’s Transport, who was also in attendance at the meeting. “What sets a commercial driver apart from other motorists is the fact that he or she knows when fatigue is setting in and takes steps to manage it by resting. Reducing rest stops is an enormous step backwards for road safety in Alberta.”