In the U.S., many truckers feel there aren’t enough truck stops and safe parking options for their tractor-trailers. On top of Hours of Service regulations, the shortage of parking spaces forces truckers to pull into unsafe or illegal parking spots. Choosing these spots can be dangerous to the driver and others around them. But truckers need ample sleep and to not drive over their allotted 11 hours. To avoid unnecessary hazards and stress of finding safe parking, here are five tips for smart and safe parking at truck stops truckers can use.
Plan It in Your Route
Since truckers should be following a preplanned route already, factor in the fuel stops and trucks stops you’ll be needing to stop at in your route and schedule. Try to plan the driving schedule around fulfilling your miles and driving hours within regulations, but also to arrive at truck stops early. Competition for limited parking is stiff. Planning where to park will help you to avoid illegal or unsafe parking spots.
Park for Safety, Not Convenience
When you pull into the truck stop, park as far away from traffic as possible. Usually, this means you will be parking in the back of the lot. While it may be tempting to pull into the nearest space when you’re tired, other tired people will be coming to park there too. Avoid parking at a spot at the end of a row; these spots are right next to the parking lot traffic.
Strategic Parking Spots
The most strategic parking spots are generally the ones that won’t require you to back out when you leave. Find parking spaces that let you pull through or that you can back into. Remember to keep your tractor and trailer straight when parked. Also, be aware of the parked trucks around the spot. Don’t park in a space where the other trailer will have to back up towards when it leaves. If a truck in the next spot looks close or crooked for some reason, it may be best to move on to another place to park.
Choose Well-Lit Spaces
Parking under lights or in truck stops with floodlights is better than a dark lot. The lights help to deter thieves. Truck stops have plenty of people coming and going. Some stops have places for fueling, restrooms, convenience stores, maybe even a restaurant.
Protect You and Your Cargo
If you plan to sleep in your cab at the truck stop, remember to take some precautions to protect you and your cargo. Close the windows, make sure the trailer is secure, and keep valuables like cellphones out of sight. Many trucks have dash cams for insurance purposes. If the thieves see a camera, they’ll more than likely avoid your vehicle.
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