Truck Stop Etiquette & Safety

If you choose to become an over-the-road (OTR) trucker after earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’ll spend a lot of time driving across the country. You’ll also probably spend a lot of time at truck stops to shower, refuel, and rest. You may also be grabbing a bite to eat at these locations from time to time, even if you pack food on your truck as well.

You’ll be learning a great deal during your first year as a new trucker, from safe driving to how to communicate best with your dispatcher. During this time, you should also make sure you understand truck stop etiquette and safety.

Many of these “rules” boil down to staying polite and being a reasonably cautious driver in general, so if you follow those principles, you will be in a good position.

Some things you should keep in mind at truck stops:

Drive Slowly and Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Truck stops generally have a lot of foot traffic as well as multiple semi-trucks and passenger vehicles navigating the lot. It’s important to drive slowly, no matter how much of a hurry you are in. You should also be aware of what is going on around you and keep a lookout for any potential hazards.

Don’t Park at the Fuel Pump Longer than Necessary

After getting your diesel, it’s okay to stay at the pump to go inside and get your receipt or to grab a few items at the register. However, if you are doing anything longer than that, you should pull into a parking spot. It can be tempting to avoid the hassle of backing in, but no one wants to wait in a long line to fuel up.

Be Mindful When Parking a Bobtail

If you are driving a tractor without an attached trailer (bobtail), you should park in the designated bobtail spaces when possible. Most truck stops have these spots. If they are full or the truck stop you are at does not have them, consider pulling forward in the parking area and leaving space for another bobtail to park in the same spot. In cases where this isn’t possible to coordinate, make sure your tractor is clearly visible so no one starts backing in, only to see the tractor in the back of the spot.

Get Out and Look (GOAL)

You should always back into spots instead of pulling through, as this is safer for when you leave the truck stop. That being said, it’s understandable that backing is sometimes difficult, especially if you are a new trucker. Make sure you get out and look (GOAL) to get a clear idea of what is around the spot and take your time.

It’s better to slow down than to try to rush the process and hit another truck. Most other truckers will be patient since everyone has been in this position before. Even if someone seems frustrated with the time it takes, they would definitely be more upset if you hit their truck!

Clean Up After Yourself and Your Pets

This should go without saying, but it’s important to make sure to clean up after yourself at truck stops. If you are trucking with your pets, pick up after them as well.

Be Kind and Help Out When You Can

It doesn’t cost anything to be friendly. No matter what kind of day you are having, try to be polite to those you meet at truck stops, whether you are talking to the cashier or another driver.

Additionally, try to help out your fellow drivers when it’s safe to do so. Especially after you have gained some more experience on the road. You can assist other drivers who may be dealing with the same things you did during your first year. Even as a rookie, you can help spot for someone while they back in, let a driver know if they are able to hit something, and generally lend a hand when you can. These small actions make life on the road a little easier for everyone.

Become a Truck Driver at Phoenix Truck Driving School

If you want to earn competitive pay while enjoying the freedom of the open road, our CDL school can help. Our program can take as little as four weeks and we give you the skills you need to succeed.

To learn more about our CDL training in Albuquerque, contact us today.

Top 5 Skills for a Truck Driver to Have

Trucking is a rewarding career path and drivers can make more than $69,000 a year.* It is also one of few industries where you can finish training in as little as four weeks. It’s helpful to consider the top skills a truck driver needs to possess to understand whether this might be the ideal job for you. If you already have these skills, you would likely make a great trucker.

1. Safe Driving

Safety is absolutely essential in the trucking industry. Operating a vehicle that is so much larger than the standard four-wheeler is a big responsibility. Your actions affect not only yourself but also everyone else on the road.

Truck drivers need to be focused on safety at all times. This includes maintaining a safe speed, avoiding distractions, and driving defensively.

2. Communication

Most people think of trucking as a solitary job. In many cases, this is true. Unless you are a team driver, you will likely spend most of your time by yourself. However, communicating well with others is actually a big part of your job as a trucker.

One of the people you will communicate with most is your dispatcher. Dispatchers act as a go-between for motor carriers and their drivers. Their job is to make sure freight gets to the customer on time and undamaged. If there are unexpected delays, routing issues, or other concerns while on the road, your dispatcher is typically the person you’ll work with to find a solution.

At various points, you’ll also need to communicate with the customer to arrange deliveries, with your company’s safety director if you have any concerns or questions, and many more. In addition to your professional life, communication will likely impact your personal life, especially if you are trucking with a family.

3. Navigation

Over-the-road (OTR) truckers travel across the United States to deliver freight. While modern GPS technology has made it easier to determine where you are going, you shouldn’t rely on navigation devices entirely.

Most truckers use a road atlas and/or a phone application in addition to their GPS system. This allows you to see where rest stops are, what roads are off-limits to semi-trucks, and if there are any closures you need to be aware of. You should be comfortable with using a map and be skilled in navigation.

4. Organization

You will have various paperwork on your truck to document your load. In addition, you will need to keep track of daily pre-trip inspections, manage your hours of service (HOS), and plan your routes. All of these tasks require good organizational skills. Many truckers keep a binder or file cabinet in their cab to help them keep track of everything.

5. Motivation to Succeed

One of the reasons why trucking is a great career path is that, in many cases, you are in control of your own success. If you work hard, consistently deliver your freight on time, and drive safely, you can earn competitive pay and continue to advance your career. You can even become an owner-operator and run your own trucking business.

Get Your Career Started

If you are interested in becoming a commercial truck driver, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help you get started. We offer accelerated training and can get you on the road in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about our commercial driver’s license (CDL) training in Albuquerque, contact us today.

**Professional truck drivers earn a mean annual wage of $47,130 The top 10% of truck drivers make more than $69,480 per year according to the 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics.