Are you hitting the road on a long-distance journey? Chances are you may need to stop at a truck stop, especially if you’re a professional truck driver, or even if you’re hauling a larger load like a boat or a recreational vehicle. When utilizing these truck-stop facilities, it’s important to remember that it’s a shared space and regardless if you’re there for work or leisure, everyone is working hard to get to where they need to be safely and on time.
Whether you’re new to driving commercial vehicles or a veteran on the road, truck stop etiquette is easy to follow, once you learn a few quick tips on truck stop safety.
Tips for Short Term Stops
If you are pulling in to a truck stop to fuel up, choose a lane and file into line as efficiently as you can. If you hang back waiting for the best available option, you will likely cause a bottleneck of congestion behind you.
Once you are finished fueling, make sure you move your vehicle to a designated parking spot before going inside to use the washroom or grab a bite to eat. Be mindful of the parking spot you select; some areas of the truck stop are designated for the largest rigs who have limited parking options. Select a stall that accommodates the size of vehicle you are driving and leave the other spaces for those who need them.
Truck stops are a great place to offload some of the garbage and recycling that can accumulate in your vehicle on a road trip or a long haul. Identify the proper disposal containers and be sure not to litter.
Tips for Overnight Stops
If you need to take a break from driving, truck stops are typically able to accommodate an overnight stop. Trucker Path is a great app to keep handy on your phone to locate an overnight truck stop nearest you, with the amenities you need, like an RV dump station, WiFi, laundry, showers, etc. This app shows locations across Canada and the US, so you can use it as a guide across the continent!
Before you settle in for the night check in with the truck stop attendant, if someone is present, for the best location to park your vehicle. If you are driving or hauling an RV, they may have a separate area from the commercial vehicle spaces. Ensuring you do not take a commercial truck driver’s spot is crucial; laws require truck drivers to get a certain amount of rest per number of hours that they drive so their truck stop visit may be one of necessity, not just convenience.
When you’re grabbing some shut-eye as a commercial driver, try and be courteous to the other trucks around — we recommend parking so that your windows are not parallel with another truck. If you stagger your cab so it’s slightly ahead or slightly behind your neighbour’s, you don’t need to worry about catching a glance into another trucker’s private cab.
Tips for Safety
As you would in any parking lot, maintain a safe operating speed when navigating the truck stop lot. There can be children, animals, and fellow drivers on the ground and when things get particularly busy, it’s important to keep an eye out for one another. If you witness an unsafe maneuver or if you have the opportunity to help out a novice driver who may be struggling, offer to lend a helping hand. If you do not feel comfortable offering assistance, alert an attendant at the truck stop.
When choosing a truck stop, particularly for an overnight stay, avoid locations that appear deserted or isolated. Parking near others can provide safety in numbers. If you can, back your vehicle in to your spot; in the event that you need to leave quickly, you can easily pull straight away. If you leave your vehicle unattended for any length of time be sure to lock, not only your vehicle doors, but the doors on any trailer you may be hauling too. Leaving your doors unlocked or your load unsecured could invite trouble from someone looking for an easy grab!
You can equip your vehicle with some additional items that would be helpful in an emergency situation, including a fully-charged cell-phone and power bank for charging. You can also ensure you have a flashlight and a personal alarm close at hand, for if you find yourself in a tricky situation. If you are alone, do not allow any strangers to lure you from your vehicle, and do not allow any strangers to enter your vehicle. If you are approached by individuals looking to sell illicit services or substances, alert the truck stop attendant and/or the appropriate authorities.
Tips for Women
Female drivers that are traveling alone must remain vigilant and trust their instincts when selecting a safe stop. Putting some extra time and research into your route and potential stops beforehand can make a big difference to how comfortable and safe you will be when you grab a quick rest. When looking for the best truck stop, choose one that’s well-lit, well-maintained, and a popular stop for other travelers, which will increase the likelihood of it being busy when you stop.
When speaking to others at the truck stop, use an authoritative tone and carry yourself with confidence. If you are approached, try to insinuate that you have another driver with you — perhaps they’re sleeping in the berth, or have gone inside for a coffee. Strength in numbers can deter potential threats. Carrying a protective device like a noise alarm or pepper spray is strongly recommended for any female drivers traveling alone.
Work at keeping a low-profile when you’re stopped, which means wearing very little or no jewelry, keeping your electronic devices pocketed or minimally used, and keeping your apparel low-key and neutral.
Have a back-up plan. If something does happen at one of your stops, make sure you have a secret stash of cash, a credit card, and a piece of ID. You can do this by investing in a money belt, and always keeping this on yourself at all times. Another part of a back-up plan is having someone who you are in contact with and who knows where you should be and where you’re going — have a friend or family member be expecting your call every day or two and check in with them.
Top Truck Stops in Western Canada
If you are travelling through British Columbia, be sure to stop at the Petro-Canada in Kamloops, just on the Trans-Canada Highway. This spot boasts 35 truck parking spaces, showers, a truckers’ lounge, laundry and according to online reviews, it even has a pool table. You can grab a bite to eat anytime, at the 24-hour connected A&W restaurant, so it’s a great location stop day or night to refuel yourself and your rig!
In Alberta, the Husky Travel Centre is a gem in the northern part of the province. Located in Grassland, this locale has a staggering 75 parking spaces, plus five diesel fueling lanes. Online reviews mention clean showers and a great family restaurant, so you can recharge your tank with a warm shower and a hot meal!
South of the border in Washington, Love’s Travel Stop in Ellensburg comes highly recommended. With 80 parking spots, seven diesel lanes, showers, internet and a truck wash, you’re sure to feel rested and refreshed when you hit the road again after a meal at the connected Perkins restaurant. The friendly, efficient staff and clean environment, which are raved about through online reviews, can be a welcome sight after a long-haul on the road!
Whether you’re on the road as a professional driver or road-tripping with the family, rest stops and truck stops can play an important role as a place to recharge, refuel, and stretch your limbs! Make the best out of these stops by tracking down exactly what you need, being safe while you’re stopped, and taking a few moments to enjoy your life on the road. And don’t forget to ask any travel centres about their rewards programs; some will offer free coffees or showers when you rack up points!
Originally published at https://www.valleydrivingschool.com.