A truck stop can be a pro driver's best friend, an oasis in the middle of a thousand-mile trip that takes dedication and diligence every step of the way. However, there are some things that every trucker should keep in mind about these locations, because they're not all created equal and can actually even pose some danger for those who are unaware of the risks.
The following should help you deal with these stopping spots more effectively, so that you stay safe and happy in your life on the road:
1) Know which rest stops are sleepover-friendly
While most truck stops and rest areas will allow truckers to stay overnight, there are some states where doing so is technically against the law, according to Landstar Agent. As such, if you want to avoid a potential hassle (unlikely, but you never know), it's best to plan your trip and look at the policy for every individual stop along your route.
2) Keep yourself close to others
When you're finding a spot in any rest area or lot, it's a good idea not to park too far from other drivers — especially other truckers, Landstar suggested. That's because there's safety in numbers; when there are plenty of other people around (and thus plenty of eyes and ears), the risk you face from crime or accidents is greatly reduced.
3) Don't park somewhere you'll have to back out of
While it's not always totally avoidable, you should certainly strive to park by pulling through a spot and so you're facing traffic whenever you can, according to Interstate Motor Carriers. Backing out in a busy parking lot is often a tedious, time-consuming and risky process, so it's always better to be able to see where you're headed and get out quickly.
4) Be aware of traffic flow
Along similar lines, it's a good idea to get the full picture of how vehicles move through the rest area, as this can inform decisions about where and how to park, Interstate Motor Carriers advised. You don't want to end up leaving yourself exposed to being hit by another vehicle, from the front or back, because you didn't know there would be traffic coming that way.
5) Know what amenities you need
Again, not all rest stops have the same features, and you should make sure your chosen spot has what you need, according to Big Star Finance. Whether that's as simple as a bathroom and fast-food dining, or something like a shower, a little research will go a long way.
6) Arrive early if you're staying overnight
Any experienced trucker will tell you the good spots at rest stops fill up quickly as night falls, Big Star Finance added. As such, you need to plan your trip so that you reach your stop of choice early enough to find a spot with ease.
7) Keep your head on a swivel
Finally, you never know what you will encounter at a truck stop, and it's important to be aware of your surroundings, risk and so on, Big Star Finance further cautioned. Just as you are hyper-vigilant on the road, you need to be similarly aware of everything that goes on around you in a parking lot.
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