Planning early is the only way to ensure a parking spot
It’s late and you’ve had a long day — time to call it a night. Luckily, a few truck stops are right out front.
Much like a sailor spotting land, the first sight of large, illuminated signs on a highway is a welcoming beacon to weary drivers. You know that just below the beam of lights awaits you a hot shower, a hearty meal and a good night’s rest.
But upon arrival, the relief quickly turns to dread because the lot is full. You try the truck stop next door, but it’s also very crowded. What was supposed to be an uneventful evening now turns into a race against time when you realize you’re nearing the end of your available driving time.
With few options, you find yourself settling for a sketchy parking lot where you sleep little while anxiously waiting for the sunrise.
But it wasn’t bad luck that brought you here; it was probably poor trip planning. As Trusted Partners VP of Security Brian Runnels would ask why did you wait so long to park?
“If you get to a place after 5 or 6 a.m., be aware that you may not find a place to park,” Runnels said. “It is imperative to try to plan as early as possible and be aware that if you are driving late in the evening there is a risk of parking issues depending on where you are.”
Even the most responsible drivers sometimes find themselves victims of no vacancy.
The American Trucking Associations notes that 98% of drivers say they have problems finding secure truck parking. Worse still, 58% of drivers admit to parking illegally at least three times a week, and a TruckerPath survey found that 70% admittedly violate HOS to find parking.
Parking has become scarce in recent years as the freight industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Runnels argues that the popularity of more regional jobs has clustered drivers into already congested areas, leaving long-haul drivers with few options upon arrival.
He urges drivers, especially in high traffic areas such as the Interstate 95 or 75 lanes, to allocate more time for parking, making sure they factor this into their trip planning.
Runnels suggests asking the sender or receiver first if they have parking available. Your second option is to give yourself more time to look for a parking alternative.
If time is on your side, don’t be afraid to be picky; it is better to choose a truck stop with the right qualities. For example, make sure it is well lit and in a good location. Runnels prefers reputable chains and those located outside of major metropolitan areas, explaining that truck stops near major cities are prone to crime.
“Don’t park in the back if you can avoid it…but if it’s late at night you’ll need to take any parking spot you can.”
At crowded rest areas and exit ramps, many truckers park on the shoulders of these ramps. Although no federal law prohibits this, Runnels said each state, county and even city may have different guidelines and laws. Still, he said this option is at least safer than parking on the off-ramp where vehicles pass you at much faster speeds.
A parking spot is never promised at the end of your day, but good trip planning can help solve the problem. Do not push the limits of your time or your well-being. Plan early and often – you’ll be glad you did after a good night’s rest.
Click for more FreightWaves content by Jack Glenn.
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