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Truck Driver Rest Stop Tips

Truck driver rest stop tips include the hours of service that a truck driver has to stick to, which is a DOT-mandated 10-hour break following 14 hours on duty.

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ABCO Transportation
October 7, 2020
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If there is one thing that all truck drivers need, it’s truck driver rest stop tips. There are hours and hours spent driving the nation's interstate highways, so finding somewhere to rest and understanding the rules when you do stop is a must if you are a truck driver.

Believe it or not, there are rules for stopping to rest at a rest stop. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the hours of service that a truck driver has to stick to are very strict, with a 10-hour break following 14 hours on duty. In those 10 hours, you can park up and rest - especially if you’re between destinations on a long-haul journey. For your time spent at rest stops to be fulfilling and result, you need as many truck driver rest stop tips you can get.

We’re going to cover those tips and more in this article, answering some of the most common questions as asked by truckers the nation over.

How Do Truckers Stay Cool at Night?

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You wouldn't believe that truckers can get overly hot in their trucks unless you have experienced a cab drive yourself. Whether overnight parking or parking through the day, truckers have to drive a long distance no matter what the weather is. It could be in the middle of summer, or the depths of a snowy winter and truckers would be on the road. You need to stay cool at night during those hotter months and you can do it in a combination of ways. Some truckers use an APU (auxiliary power unit) to stay cool, where others use fans or a down comforter when they need to stay warm.

Long haul truckers are often equipped for the temperature no matter what. Those who bring a sleeping bag get the ones that campers use or the ones that hikers have for their travels, as they know that they will be colder or warmer in those. An APU uses the idle engine to run the AC so that truckers can stay cool, so it makes sense to use one of these where possible. Keeping the truck cool is one of the most essential truck driver rest stop tips there is, as without the right temperature, truckers cannot sleep well. Without sleep, they are not safe to be driving, no matter how long they have been on their break.

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How Long Can You Sleep at a Rest Stop?

Finding a vacant parking space is one of the hardest things to do as a trucker on the road. You will not be the only trucker looking for a parking space to get a night of decent sleep while you are between hours, and the place that you choose has to be safe and not have suspicious activities. The current parking shortage is proving a difficult thing for drivers to manage, especially when faced with the choices between hours of service violations or a traffic fine. 

Many drivers decide to pull into an on-ramp or shoulder area of the highway to rest, with others in designated truck stops and rest areas. The problem with parking a big rig is safety, as many parking lots are in poorly lit areas that are known to be targeted for crime. You should not park your rig in higher risk or high traffic areas. Stick to designated parking areas in designated parking spots. If possible, create a pre plan so you know where you are staying for the night. Most states do allow overnight stays in rest areas and truck drivers often take advantage of this where possible, but others have laws that prohibit extended parking times. There are no security personnel in these areas, either, so quick access to highways mean that criminals take advantage.

Even the parking lots that are well-lit are often prone to crime sprees and thieves, so drivers must be alert to these risks no matter where they choose to park. How long you can sleep at a rest stop depends on the state you are in, as some states have time limits or restrictions on the rest area visits. In New York, for example, you can only stay all night at a rest area if there is an emergency. In Ohio, you can stay for a maximum of 14 hours. You need to check with the state in which you are visiting how long you are legally able to stay.

What Should Every Truck Driver Have at Rest Stops?

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Preparing your truck for a long haul trip is essential before you get on the road. You should feel safe, comfortable and trained on the road and you need to pack your truck effectively to ensure you're not without something on your way. So, here are a few things that you should have at rest stops:

  • Flashlight. At rest stops, it's often poorly lit and extremely dark overnight. Once you park your truck, you need a flashlight to help you to see the toilet or shower blocks. A flashlight will be something you have if you breakdown, anyway!
  • Refillable Bottle. Hydration is so essential on the road, especially as this job is a lot of sitting down. You may make more frequent stops for a bathroom break, but you will be able to keep your body feeling good while you drive. It's also going to help you to stay awake on the road. Bringing a refillable bottle will save you a lot of money and space on the road.
  • A Cooler. Refilling your cooler at gas station stores will help you to keep veggies, fruit and dips cool on the road. You don't have to throw down unhealthy snacks when a cooler can act as a refrigerator and keep the healthier items ready to eat.
  • Shower Bag. Include shower flip flops in this bag! You will be sharing shower blocks with other truckers who you likely won't know. Truckstop showers aren't exactly the cleanest around, so bring all of your toiletries as well as flip flops to help you avoid infections.
  • Spare Pillow & Sleeping Bag. Every trucker should have a sleeping bag and pillow in the cab with them. It's easier than lugging around sheets.
  • Antibacterial Wipes. Some truckers like to carry an emergency bathroom container and toilet paper for when they are in long traffic and cannot get out to use a bathroom. Antibacterial wipes give them a way to clean out that container and truck stops are the place to empty the used toilet paper.
  • Gloves & Hat. While the truck cab may be warm some days, it's often a cooler place to be. Gloves and a hat stored in the truck mean that you can always be warm no matter what.
  • Extra Food. You never know when you can find nourishing food on the road, so having extra water and food in your cooler will save money and keep you satisfied.
  • Earplugs. Specific rest stops can be noisy places! Lots of truck drivers park to rest in designated spots and earplugs will help to drown out that noise. If you have a co-driver, it' l be a polite way to sleep without kicking them to stop snoring.
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Rest Area Rules on Interstates

rest-area-rules-on-interstates

Rest areas are located around every two hours along the highways in the United States. They are designed to be safe places for drivers to rest while they are on their long trips. Some states have official rules and regulations for each site, but others are happy for truckers to pull up, rest, use the bathrooms and move on again. It seems typical that while some sites say “no overnight parking,” it’s rare for people to be fined or moved from a particular spot.

Most states follow the laws as set out by the Federal Highway Administration, but the DOT has a complete list of states and their rest area rules on interstates. Understanding these before you set off is one of the most valuable truck driver rest top tips you could have.

Truck Stop Facilities

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Truck stops used to be a place for fueling up using the bathroom and going. Thankfully, time and common sense have led to the development of better, more comfortable rest stops for truckers to use. There have been several improvements, from added stores to the incorporation of amenities that are essential for the wellbeing of the trucker. The facilities are now more modern, providing everything from more oversized parking lots to showers and even a laundry service in some places. This is all done to allow the truck drivers to feel like they have some home comforts on a gruelling drive. Some of the truck stop facilities you may come across include:

Restaurants

You may be frugal and bring your own food with you on your drives but some rest stops now offer more than one type of restaurant. If you find that you're out of food early in your shift, you can stop for a bite to eat. Most truck drivers will only stop if the food offered is of excellent healthy quality. It's not all burgers and chilli dogs!

Shower Blocks

Fourteen hours on the road is a long time to be working, so being able to stop for a rest where there is a shower available is a Holy Grail for truck drivers. A shower not only works as a way to improve hygiene, but truckers can often use the shower to relax aching muscles and get ready for a good night of sleep. A shower can often help a truck driver to get their focus back, too, so that they are able to safely drive in accordance with the rules set forth by the FMCSA. It's an essential, basic amenity that has changed the game for many truckers.

Laundry Services

Sitting in the same clothes for hours on end doesn't just impact hygiene but it also  impacts confidence. Truck drivers are representing the business that has hired them to do a job. Turning up sweating and in clothes with accidental food spills on them is not professional. Some drivers are on the road for long weeks, so having a space to do their laundry without having to hand-wash it makes a massive difference to their driving experience. You may think that the laundry services are expensive (in the same way laundromats can be!), but they're not. Almost all of the laundry rooms provided at rest stops are also equipped with games and television screens for entertainment while you wait. You just need to remember to bring some detergent: just in case the truck stop laundry has run out!

Wi-Fi

It's so important to every truck driver to have access to the internet. They can check in with family and friends and use the Wi-Fi to pay bills and manage their homes, too. It's a unique way to live, and so while drivers will mostly live alone in their trucks while on the road, connectivity can help them still feel connected to their families and the outside world.

Truck Stop Living Ideas

Living on the road is not always easy, so here are some ideas that you can implement to make your experience a more pleasant one!

  1. Take as much pride in your truck as possible. Bring cleaning supplies and clean it out every day. You have to live in this space and the interior is as important as the exterior. No one wants to smell food or sit in crumbs and it’s easier for you if you have cleaning supplies to hand.
  2. Try to focus on nutritional food while you are driving. It’s easy to grab a burger but you do that every shift and you’re going to be more uncomfortable as your waistline grows! Rely on healthier foods and pack veggie sticks and dips into your cooler for easy-grab on the road.
  3. Be prepared for any weather situation with an emergency pack in your truck. You need to have scrapers, sleeping bags, torches, matches, even a backup cell phone battery to ensure you can connect in case of an emergency.
  4. Bring a small pouch of tools. If you have a breakdown on the road, you should be calling your trucking company to help. But there are some moments that a quick fix with a screwdriver will help. Necessary repairs will help you to avoid violating DOT rules during an inspection.
  5. Always have entertainment with you. Bring books, music, a list of downloaded podcasts, even the equipment to draw! You have to have something to do while you’re not working.
  6. With this in mind, start a hobby. Learn to use a camera and take pictures of all the places you visit. Make a point of learning how to do something new in your downtime. You could even start a fitness regime and exercise beside the truck!
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Truck Stop Rules

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When you park in a truck stop, you immediately agree to the rules, so use etiquette while you are there. It is so vital that you realize that the truck stop is a home away from home and there will be people you recognize from the road and you will see the entertainment available to you when you stop. There are some rules of etiquette to consider when you are parked and ready for a break, so let's take a look at the most important ones!

  1. Never park your truck at the fuel island and leave it there while you do paperwork, eat and shower. You don't want to be that guy that everyone grinds their teeth at! Fuel up and park somewhere else in the parking lot before you do anything else. 
  2. Dispose of your toilet containers respectfully. It's extremely lazy to leave bottles of urine at the side of the road, for example. It's common for truckers to be caught in heavy traffic and have no other option but you can dispose of all of that correctly and respectfully to everyone else.
  3. Dress appropriately when you stop. Not every company has a uniform, but almost every company will have a dress code and you should make sure that you are sticking to it. There's no need to fall out of your cab half-dressed.
  4. Introduce yourself to others, be polite and say hello. You're on the road at the same time as everyone else, and that means looking out for each other and offering to help when you can. Let other drivers pass if they need to and be courteous when you stop.
  5. Education on safety tips is vital for all truck drivers. Knowing who should be knocking on your windows and those who move truck to truck at rest stops is key!

Get a Trucking Job with ABCO Today!

If you are currently looking for opportunities in the trucking industry, speak to our team here at ABCO Transportation. You could be looking for a change, to start a new career or simply to be involved in an industry where your hard work is essential. Our jobs are varied, from OTR, regional and even local opportunities available for you to take advantage of today. We also offer truck driving jobs in Hartford, CT and local driving jobs in Atlanta GA.

You don't need to have previous experience, as we’ve got the tools to get you going. We also offer truck driving tips, including night time truck driving tips. Our friendly team can give you all the advice that you need to get you started, so why not contact us today for a trucking job application? Call our team now on 866-980-2710 and you’ll have your new start waiting for you.

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