My trip down to Vegas took me through Real-Life Utah. There were some things that jumped out at me as worthy of note:

They’re combating Fatigued Driving in a constructive way. This is an issue that’s important to me because back when I was a full-time college student and had a full-time job and was writing at one paper and editing another, I got into two of these. I have also long worried about the hours my wife has worked and works and the toll it takes on her alertness. Anyhow, they have designated turn-off spots for fatigued drivers. This is good because if you are tired and pull over, you never know if you’re going to get ticketed (especially in a place that craves order like Utah). Letting you know it’s okay to do so, and where, is immensely helpful.

A good public/private partnership. In addition to public rest areas, they have also apparently worked things out with some way stations wherein they double as public rest areas. I guess the state pays these places some money and in return the restrooms are public, well-kept, and you won’t get hassled for loitering. This is an all-around win and I prefer these places to the actual rest areas and regular gas stations because if I want to buy something, I can (more than at a public rest stop), but I feel under no obligation to (as I do at a gas station).

Petting zoos. How family-friendly is Utah? Family-friendly enough that one of the gas stations had a petting zoo attached. With zebras.

Utah has 80mph speed limits. The signs all let us know that it’s experimental. They’re also heavily enforced. I’m not sure if that’s because of concern that drivers will take that as a license to go over 100 or because drivers already have. The end result is that on the way back, when the speed limit was 75 I drove 80 and when the speed limit was 80 I drove 80. Still, it’s a start.


Category: Road

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13 Responses to Four Cheers For Real-Life Utah

  1. David Alexander says:

    Anyhow, they have designated turn-off spots for fatigued drivers.

    I’ll admit that while it’s not as good as having a full blown rest or service area, it’s a sensible idea especially since the designated area means that the state troopers may come by and check on motorists in said area which provides some degree of safety for those using it.

    In addition to public rest areas, they have also apparently worked things out with some way stations wherein they double as public rest areas.

    We’re semi-used to this here in the Northeast as a sizable chunk of the interstate mileage is either composed of toll roads with service areas with gas stations, rest rooms, food courts, and tourism bureau information, or free roads where there next one or two exits always seems to have some type of retail around it. I haven’t seen a rest area without some type of full blown bathroom and vending machine in the Northeast, but things may be different out west.

    Admittedly, Utah’s programme is a good way of getting around the federal ban on service areas on new built interstates, so I can’t fault them from trying. It’s certainly better than nothing.

    Utah has 80mph speed limits.

    Pfft. I drove on the Autobahn. 🙂

  2. David Alexander says:

    80 to 85 mph seems to be that weird mental limit that most drivers have in terms of their maximum speed. Even on Long Island with the blanket 55 speed limit, the real speeders seem to cut out at 80 to 85 mph.

    Speaking of that, I may be one of the few people who would attempt to attach a visit to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas. LV comes across as one of those places that everybody is expected to visit, while a drive on I-15 is for roadgeeking, and Salt Lake City is merely for riding the light rail.

  3. Peter says:

    I haven’t seen a rest area without some type of full blown bathroom and vending machine in the Northeast

    The rest areas around Exit 50 on the Long Island Expressway have no facilities of any sort. Of course those in search of donikers and/or food can find them at most any exit.

  4. David Alexander says:

    That rest area between 51 and 52 is a bit weird, and arguably, the same is true with the rest area on Sunrise Hwy in Hampton Bays. There are no facilities at both, but you’d never see why anybody would use them since most traffic on both roads is composed of mostly regional and local traffic. In effect, it ends up being a truck rest area, but it’s too far east to be of any use for the truckers coming from the rest of the country. It’s either stop off in some truck stop far outside of the metro area or at the last service areas or hope that the cops don’t pull you over on the Clearview or LIE while you’re taking a nap.

  5. trumwill says:

    I haven’t seen a rest area without some type of full blown bathroom and vending machine in the Northeast, but things may be different out west.

    The rest areas do typically have bathrooms and vending machines. Sometimes there are “picnic areas” where one or both of these things aren’t there. But (a) the bathrooms often lack mirrors and soap, which is annoying, and (b) vending machines are no substitute for a convenience store.

  6. David Alexander says:

    But (a) the bathrooms often lack mirrors and soap, which is annoying

    I discovered that when I used a rest area on I-90 in the Cascades where the bathroom was essentially just an modern outhouse with heater. It’s better than nothing, but most would want a full blown bathroom, especially since some people feel icky after using the bathroom without washing, especially after a “#2”.

    vending machines are no substitute for a convenience store

    I suspect it depends on one’s habits. The vending machines tend to have many of the snacks and drinks that most convenience stores have, but if you’re stuck with no cash, then the machines are downright useless. In turn, if you’re one of the few people that eats the hot foods or sandwiches, then the machines are useless. Of course, as I said before, I’m used to the Northeast where you can stop at the rest area, eat some junk from the machine, and be assured that you’d find fast food or 7-11 within 20 minutes or so, something that’s especially true on the I-95 corridor.

    Sometimes there are “picnic areas” where one or both of these things aren’t there

    The Taconic Parkway has something similar where there are no services, but the Taconic is a bit weird as the road used to have service areas that were closed in the 1980s.

  7. David Alexander says:

    They’re combating Fatigued Driving in a constructive way.

    Which is one of the reasons I like riding the train. Not only can I drink, but I can recline the seat back and sleep. 🙂

  8. Abel KEogh says:

    Anyhow, they have designated turn-off spots for fatigued drivers.

    Where are these exactly? I’m assuming between Provo and St. George? I drove to Vegas last year but don’t remember seeing them. Maybe I’m too used to the road to care.

    Oh, and if you’ve ever driven through Wyoming, these are all over the place. Loved them.

  9. Scarlet Knight says:

    My trip down to Vegas

    If The League makes it down to DC next year, let me know. I would be perfectly willing to take the Acela down there. Hopefully Peter and David Alexander would as well.

  10. trumwill says:

    David, if there was a train from where I am to Vegas, I absolutely would have taken it. I might have flown, if that hadn’t required driving halfway down there anyway. I need to plan better, though. I knew people where I stopped on the drive back and my cousin lives where I could have stopped on the way down.

  11. trumwill says:

    Abel: Yeah, it was primarily in the southern part of the state. Where there are lots of places without a lot of good places to stop.

    Knight: It looks like it’s going to be either DC or NOLA. We’re kind of hoping for NOLA, but either would be really good for us.

  12. David Alexander says:

    If The League makes it down to DC next year, let me know. I would be perfectly willing to take the Acela down there. Hopefully Peter and David Alexander would as well.

    Given that I’ve taken Amtrak to meet a blogger in DC, I’d very tempted to take a trip to DC to meet Monsieur Trumwill. 🙂

    David, if there was a train from where I am to Vegas, I absolutely would have taken it.

    It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever really see train service in that corridor. The closest was service between Chicago and LA that went via Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

    It looks like it’s going to be either DC or NOLA. We’re kind of hoping for NOLA, but either would be really good for us.

    Actually, depending on your availability for the trip to DC, you could take a day trip or two to Philadelphia or New York if you were bored. 🙂

  13. trumwill says:

    Given that I’ve taken Amtrak to meet a blogger in DC, I’d very tempted to take a trip to DC to meet Monsieur Trumwill. 🙂

    That’d be awesome.

    It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever really see train service in that corridor. The closest was service between Chicago and LA that went via Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

    SLC is a bit far to drive to then hop on a train, unfortunately. Given the difficulty I had in southern Utah, though, I might have regretted that calculation if I’d had an alternative.

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