Let’s be real. Parking a big rig when you’re new to trucking can seem pretty scary. Hell, I failed my first driver’s test because I couldn’t parallel park in my Nissan Sentra — a compact car. Whether or not you passed your road test with flying colors, applying your skills on the open road is more challenging than you may think. That’s why we’ve put together this list of tractor trailer parking tips for new drivers. If you follow these guidelines and keep practicing, you’ll be parking like a pro in no time!
Tractor Trailer Parking Tips
One of the most important things to do when parking your rig is to remember your training. Before you park, you need to assess the situation, figure out which maneuver you will use, and pay attention to your surroundings at all times. One in five accidents occur in parking lots, so follow these additional tractor trailer parking tips to avoid any costly mistakes.
Plan Your Stops
Mapping out the stops you will make on a trip will help you stick to truck stops that are familiar and are well-lit. Knowing where you will stop ahead of time will help you save time and keep you safe.
Make a Checklist
Create a list of everything you need to do while you’re at a stop and try your best to do as much of it as you can at your first stop. This will help you avoid unnecessary stops along the way and reach your destination more quickly.
Utilize Rest Stops
Rest stop areas are designed to make your life easier as a truck driver. One of the biggest perks of a rest stop is pull-through parking for tractor trailers. This helps you avoid the hassle of parking in more difficult spaces.
Say No To The End Of The Row
If possible, try to avoid the spaces at the end of the rows. This helps you get away from traffic so that you can focus on maneuvering into your space. Having more space around you is always preferable, even if it’s towards the back of the lot. This may mean a longer walk to the rest area but just think of it as an extension of your exercise routine.
Start With The Hard Part
Backing out of a space is an easy way to get into an accident. If you can’t find a pull-through, try to back into your space so that you can get out more easily. No one likes to do it, but backing into a space is much safer than backing out of one later. We also recommend that you avoid parking near other trucks that have to back out of their spaces. You should also move to a different space if you noticed that your neighbor is parked poorly. This will help you keep your vehicle out of harm’s way. If you don’t have any other option, take a picture and record the truck’s name and DOT number. This will help you hold the other driver accountable if they damage your vehicle while you’re not around.
Don’t Forget To Use Your Four-Ways
Truckstop pedestrians are not the most attentive bunch. Many of them are either tired, distracted, or all of the above. Putting on your four-ways will increase the chance of them seeing you while you’re pulling in or backing up into a spot. If they still don’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn. They may be annoyed, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Straighten Out Whenever You Can
Do your best to line up your tractor and trailer when you park. If there’s less of your vehicle sticking out of the space, there’s a lower chance that someone will hit you.
For more parking tips from an experienced truck driver, check out our video below! And, if there are any tractor trailer parking tips that we missed, please let us know in the comments section. We would love to hear from you. Have a safe trip!