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Rest areas, sometimes referred to as rest stops, are typically located every hour or so along highways in the United States. Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which created the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways and included a provision for the construction of safety rest areas along the highways.
Given that the areas in which highways were constructed tended to be in remote and previously lightly traveled areas, facilities for motorists were frequently sparsely located so drivers needed safe places to take a break along the newly constructed highways.
Two years later, in 1958, the American Association of State Highway Officials released a policy document that outlined site guidelines and national standardization requirements for rest areas.