Commentary: You are finally off the traffic-congested roadway and safe at a truck stop or parking lot. Maybe or maybe not. A large percentage of truck-trailer accidents occur at truck stops. Drivers can never let their guard down when behind the wheel. Note the tips below for preventing accidents/incidents at truck stops. You can probably add a tip or two to this list that has worked for you over the years. Be Safe Out There! Dennis, Safety
General: Avoiding accidents should be the most important thing for a truck and for good reason. Trucking is a demanding profession that requires a driver to be on his “A” game when operating his/her vehicle. A large number of trucking accidents/incidents occur at truck stops which should be the safest place to park. Below are a few tips to help reduce a trucking accident/incident at a truck stop.
1. Pre-plan your route so you know you will be stopping at a location with plenty of room and one that is well lit. Choose your stops, don’t let them choose you.
2. Plan to take care of everything you need done at a truck stop when you are there the first time. Stopping to fuel, to refill your coffee, drop or scan your Trip-Pak envelope, and eat is better than stopping five times. It wastes your time (you only get paid when the wheels keeping turning) and each stop increases your risk. The old adage “Keep the right door closed as much as possible” still rings true today.
3. Never underestimate the usefulness of a rest area. Not only are they quicker with easy access but they are set up to allow trucks to pull through a parking spot versus the higher risk of backing into a spot. Statistics don’t lie….more accidents happen in truck stops than rest areas.
4. Avoid parking on the end of a row. Not only is there traffic crossing next to you but most people park on the end because they are tired and after a long day the end is the closest spot. Avoiding the end of a parking lot helps you avoid drivers who are parking when they are tired. Removing yourself from high traffic areas can only help.
5. Avoid a spot that will make you back out of it when you go to leave. Choose a spot you can either pull through (the best option) or back into (second best option).
6. Avoiding parking in a location where the trucks across from you will be required to back out of their spots. Being behind a vehicle that will be blindly backing toward you is a recipe for disaster.
7. If the truck next to you looks close, is over the line, or parked odd (for example the cab is angled to the trailer for some reason) then move on to a new spot. If you have to take that spot don’t be afraid to write down the name and DOT number on the truck. You may be glad you did when you wake up in the morning.
8. Park with your tractor and trailer straight. It reduces the area others have to hit while backing.
9. Park where there is space around you. The back of the lot will usually have more room than the front so let other drivers take the risk of all that traffic coming and going. No need to be a super Trucker when a safe and easy place is available. Think safe, not convenience.
10. Use your four-ways when pulling through the lot and backing up. People in truck stops, or even other parking lots, are usually tired or distracted. Four-ways activate peripheral vision and increase the chance of someone seeing our. And if required use your horn gently when needed to tell someone “Hey, I’m here”.
Summary: Trucking accidents are expensive to both the employer and to the driver. Always be alert and be on the watch for unsafe conditions when entering and exiting at a truck stop.