Truck stops are a necessity when you’re a truck driver. It gives you a safe place to park so you can rest, fuel up, shower and even grab a bite to eat. However, truck stop parking lots also have a high percentage of accidents and they can certainly put a dent in your budget if you’re buying all your meals there. Here are some of NTB’s favorite tips for truck drivers about saving money, staying safe and navigating truck stops more easily.
Limit your truck stop purchases
Truck stops offer the ultimate convenience, which makes it really easy to overspend. Items available for purchase can be pretty pricey, especially food and grocery items, medicine and hygiene products, and truck maintenance supplies. Make sure you stock up on these necessary items before you hit the road so you can skip the increased pricing at the truck stops.
Use reward cards for free showers and other perks
Many truck stops have rewards programs that offer discounts on fuel, free showers, free food and drinks, and more. These programs are a great way to save money. Pilot Flying J, TA-Petro and Love’s are three of the most popular truck stop rewards programs.
Avoid parking at the end of the row
You’re putting your rig at a greater risk when you park at the end of a row. There’s more traffic driving by your truck, so parking further away will minimize that. Plus, most people tend to park on the end of the row because it’s the closest spot after a long day on the road. Not parking on the end means you can avoid those tired drivers.
Fuel islands are for fueling up only
Need a bathroom break or a snack too? Refuel first and then move your truck before heading inside. All drivers have someplace to be, including you, so this is just common courtesy and the right thing to do.
Be observant and aware of your surroundings
It’s important to prioritize your personal safety when you’re at a truck stop, because, unfortunately, sometimes bad things do happen. Always be aware of your surroundings and choose well-lit areas to park.
Getting off the road earlier will give you more parking options to choose from. If you wait too long, it’s possible you may have to park in a spot that puts your truck more at risk or you may not even be able to find a safe parking spot at all.
Secure your load with a padlock
Criminals often go for whatever’s easiest to access. So, while a padlock may not guarantee that you’ll never have an issue, it definitely works as a deterrent.
Stay organized with a shower caddy
If you’re going to take showers at truck stops when you’re on the road, we recommend getting a shower caddy to stay organized. This way, you have a place to carry your shampoo and conditioner, extra towels, shower shoes, hair grooming tools, dental care items and anything else you might need. It’s too much of a hassle to get all the way to the showers and then realize you’ve left something behind in your truck.
Use your seatbelt for extra safety
Not only should you keep your doors locked, but you can actually use your seatbelt for extra security. Weave your seatbelt through the door’s armrest and then click in into place. This is an additional obstacle someone will have to deal with if they try to break in and it will give you more time to react.
If you’ve never been to a specific truck stop before, check out the reviews online first. Other truckers will let you know whether it’s a safe place to park, if the showers are clean or if there are other issues.
Be selective about your parking spot
Don’t park next to anyone who clearly didn’t park very well or who looks like they’re about to leave. You want to avoid being parked next to moving trucks as much as possible. Look for light poles or curbs to park next to also - having an extra barrier on one side of your truck will give you more protection.
What tips do you have for other truckers about truck stops? Follow NTB on Facebook and leave your tips in the comments!