TMR in Mackay has adopted the shade shelter design suggested by RAAG. This shelter design has been implemented, initially at the Waverly Creek Heavy Vehicle Rest Area, and at other sites in the region. RAAG will continue to work on the improvement of shade shelters.
Shaded Tables at Rest Areas
It has long been recognized that there are insufficient shaded tables [structures] at rest areas. RAAG has been successful in its applications to TMR Road Safety for grants for these. The east bound Heavy Vehicle shaded tables at Nebo have been funded by TMR while the westbound shelters have been funded by the Mackay combined fuel industry. An application has been submitted to TMR for funding for the upgrade of the existing motorist rest area which will be renamed the Susie Whitehead memorial rest area.
Designing Rest Areas
The aim of this section of this guide is to promote good practices for rest area design and upgrade activities. It is not intended to provide detailed design or technical information that may apply to specific sites, but rather present considerations that should be addressed during the design and construction of rest areas and also to provide examples of a range of options that may useful.
Every rest area will have a particular set of requirements defined by its location, road type and usage and many other local requirements. The importance of the knowledge and experience of local TMR officers, industry, and road users cannot be overstated. Each area should be carefully considered and should include appropriate public consultation to ensure all users needs are met.
Nevertheless, TMR has developed basic best practice designs upon which local design and engineering officers can base initial designs before moving to the more detailed design phases when developing new and upgraded sites.
Rest area best practice design
There are many factors that need to be addressed in the development of a successful rest area. In order to ensure that these are covered and integrated into a coherent approach, it is important that an overall concept is prepared. Urban designers can assist in preparing this concept design and should be involved in the whole design process.
Rest areas are designated locations within the road corridor that are accessible to drivers to allow them to take rest breaks, counter the effects of fatigue, and meet their fatigue management requirements. Appropriate rest areas enable drivers to increase the frequency, duration and quality of rest breaks. These considerations should be the primary focus of the design process.
Rest areas also provide places for heavy vehicle drivers to check their loads and vehicles, and fill in work diaries. Rest areas are not break-down or decoupling pads and should be used primarily for the purpose of enhancing fatigue management, and improving road safety outcomes. If there is a need for decoupling or other freight-related activities to occur, they should be clearly separated, preferably at a different location where the sleep of resting drivers will not be disturbed by excessive activity.
It should be remembered that, for heavy vehicle drivers, rest areas can potentially be considered a working area, and workplace health and safety considerations may apply. Driver safety, including safe access to amenities, is an important consideration during the design phase of construction.
The provision of a combined motorist and heavy vehicle rest area is sometimes appropriate to allow greater use of shared amenities and greater economies of scale. Motorists and heavy vehicle rest area users can share the facilities in combined rest areas. Wherever possible the motorist and heavy vehicle parking areas should be segregated to avoid internal traffic conflicts and to minimise disturbance between the two types of vehicle groups.
It is accepted that rest areas for heavy vehicle drivers have differing requirements to those provided for general motorists. Heavy vehicle rest areas should be primarily designed to allow heavy vehicle drivers to achieve adequate rest and overcome fatigue ahead of continuing their journey. If rest areas are overly noisy, poorly serviced, or are inaccessible to large vehicles, they will not fulfill their purpose. Good planning and design requires an integration of the strategic planning and the detailed design aspects of rest areas with the often long distance routes they service.
Locating and designing a rest area requires a collaborative approach involving road designers, urban designers, drivers, and industry representatives in the development of the details for each specific site.
Rest area layout
The final design of a rest area will be strongly influenced by the local conditions and the route on which it is placed. There is no single template design for rest areas, however there are common features. The most important consideration when designing a rest area is to ensure safety of movement within the site and to minimise potential conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian movements.
The circulation of vehicles in the rest area should minimise internal traffic conflicts. For example, good rest area layout design should ensure uni-directional flow of vehicles entering, parking and exiting the rest area. Rest areas should be designed so that reverse parking maneuvering of heavy vehicles is not required.
A landscape buffer zone is essential to separate the road from the rest area and provide a more restful space. Seven or eight meters is a desirable minimum width for this zone however this may not always be achievable in situations with limited corridor space. Nevertheless, to maximise safety, the rest area should not be hidden from view. To provide a perception of security it should be laid out so it can be seen from the road. Ground cover combined with clear trunk trees can help provide both views and a feeling of separation.
In combined rest areas, heavy vehicle parking spaces should be separated from other vehicles to prevent traffic conflict during manoeuvring. The separation of motorist and heavy vehicle parking spaces reduces disturbance of heavy vehicle drivers, rest by holiday or other travellers. Landscaped areas or sound absorbing walls can be used for separation.
In combined rest areas, amenities should be located within convenient access to both motorist and heavy vehicle drivers and passengers. For example, toilets should be located in -between the motorist and heavy vehicle parking areas or at a location that does not require motorists to enter the heavy vehicle parking area of the site.
In combined areas, special consideration of ensuring safe interactions between general motorist passengers, particularly children, and heavy vehicles is paramount. In particular, placement of access points to roads and amenities requires special careful consideration.
Parking for heavy vehicle bays allows heavy vehicles of various sizes to make the best use of the space available and also provides easy maneuvering in the rest area. This also provides the most effective design layout for achieving effective rest as it minimises in-cabin noise impacts for drivers when using their sleeper cabs. This type of parking layout is also favoured by the heavy vehicle industry.
Benefits may be obtained by dividing the heavy vehicle parking area into smaller parts. This may provide different parking areas for short term and long term heavy vehicle parking in order to minimise disturbance to those who require long rest breaks.
It is important to cater for all expected vehicle types, and where possible separate them within the rest area. For motorists, it is important to provide an adequate number of larger bays for caravans and RV’s. When providing heavy vehicle spaces in rest areas, it is important to accommodate the largest size of heavy vehicle using the route, such as B-doubles.
The length of vehicles may also require consideration. Heavy vehicles can be up to 53.5 meters in length or sometimes longer so may require either a lot of room or a straight drive through situation which is not impeded by other vehicles such as caravans blocking their ability to move.