There's no question that lack of available parking is a major challenge for truck drivers across the United States. Even after the introduction of Jason's Law back in 2012, commercial drivers are still struggling to consistently find safe parking spots.
In 2017, truck parking ranked fourth overall on the ATRI's list of Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry survey. If you look only at the responses of commercial drivers, truck parking is the second most critical issue. While these tips won't make new parking spots magically appear, they can help you park smarter and sleep easier.
1. Plan Ahead
Pre-plan when and where you're going to stop each day. Obviously, the goal is to avoid highly congested areas and areas with high crime. Tools like Google Earth and the TruckerPath app are great ways to see how crowded an area is in real time.
2. Park Early
Truck stops usually start filling up early in the evening. If you start your day earlier, you can park before others. If you can't park early, try reserving a parking spot at the truck stop where you plan on stopping.
3. Avoid Parking Near an Entrance
It will be tempting to grab the closest spot when you pull in tired. But parking spots on the end of rows, and in the front third of a parking lot, are where the heaviest traffic and highest chance of accidents are.
4. Be Picky About Who You Park Next to
If the truck next to you is parked over the line, or at an angle, try finding a different spot. If you must park there, it's not a bad idea to take down their license plate and DOT information.
5. Avoid Backing Out of Spots
It will be much quicker and easier getting back on the road if you choose a spot you can either pull through or back into.
6. Choose a Well-Lit Area
Parking near plenty of bright lights will decrease your chances of being targeted by thieves. Seek out truck stops and department store parking lots that are filled with floodlights.
7. Seal Your Truck
If you're going to sleep in your truck, close all your windows, put up window screens, and keep valuables out of sight. Consider installing a dash cam for extra peace of mind. Sometimes just the sight of them is enough to deter potential thieves.
You can also use bungee cords or tie down straps to latch your truck's doors shut from the inside.