Semi truck parking is one of the pressing issues in the trucking industry according to ATRI’s list from 2017. And secure semi truck parking is even more of a challenge. That’s why every trucking company is looking for ways to make rest stops as safe as possible for their drivers. Parking safely includes planning, finding a safe parking spot, executing the maneuver correctly, and staying safe after you’ve parked. We have compiled a list of tips that could help you with every one of these stages and make parking less of a hassle.

Try to Plan Ahead

Lack of semi truck parking lots is one of the biggest problems you’re going to face. You can increase your chances of finding a good spot if you avoid overnight stays in highly congested areas. That’s why planning your trip ahead can be very helpful. You can map out truck stops in the area where you plan to park and find out what is the best time to show up there.

You should also try and find out which are high-crime areas along your route and avoid spending your nights there. At some truck stops you might even be able to reserve a parking a few days ahead. In the case you experience delays due to traffic or detention, plan your rest stop about 50 miles before your final destination.

Plan AheadImage source: Freepik

Do it Early

Most truck drivers will try to find a parking spot for the night between 4 pm and 11 pm. At this time, it will be even harder to find a spot at a busy truck stop. If possible, plan your trip so that you arrive at the truck stop you chose a bit earlier.

This could mean starting your trip very early or very late, whichever suits you best. This can be a little inconvenient, but it pays off when you arrive at your rest stop and are able to choose a parking spot instead of just settling for whatever is available.

Pick the Smart Spot to Park

Once you have found a good truck stop and arrived there early enough to have the luxury of choosing a semi truck parking lot, it’s time to pick the best one. It is generally advised that you should never park near the entrance of a truck stop or at the end of the row. There’s more traffic in these areas, so there is a greater chance of accidents.

Semi Truck Parking LotImage source: Freepik

Be Aware of Who You Park Next to

Before you pull into your parking spot, pay attention to the trucks surrounding you. If one of your neighbors is parked at an angle or over the line, it’s probably best to avoid that spot.

After you have parked, write down the DOT numbers of the trucks next to you. This information can be helpful later in case there is damage to your truck, or if some of your cargo goes missing.

Secure Semi Truck ParkingImage source: Freepik

Find a Well-Lit Area

Spending a night in a poorly lit area can increase your chances of having your cargo stolen or your vehicle vandalized. So, it’s worth some extra effort to find a spot that is near lots of bright lights, or that is generally more active.

Department store or home improvement parking lots are a good option. It is even better if you can find a rest area with guards or security cameras.

Carry out the parking maneuver safely

The most important part of parking a truck is the actual maneuver. There are two ways you can slide into the parking spot – backing up and pulling in. Backing up is generally recommended as a safer option for both cars and trucks, so you should choose this method whenever possible. Here are the steps you should follow for backing up into a parking spot safely.

1. Identify your backing up maneuver

The type of backing up maneuver you’ll have to carry out depends on the type of parking spot that you come across. There are four main types of maneuvers: straight back, offset back, alley dock, and parallel parking.

Carry Out The Parking Maneuver Safely Identify Your Backing Up Maneuver 1Image source: WikiHow


2. Understand the mechanics of semi truck backing up

Semi trucks with attached trailers require the driver to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction then they would when backing a regular vehicle. Your trailer will turn back opposite the direction you turn the steering wheel. Mastering this technique takes time. It would be best if you can find an empty parking lot and practice reverse maneuvers before trying it out in a crowded parking lot for the first time.

Understand The Mechanics Of Semi Truck Backing UpImage source: WikiHow

3. Pull ahead of your spot

In order to avoid cutting too sharp while backing up, you should pull up a few feet ahead of the parking spot you chose. This will give you more space between your truck and other parked vehicles, so you’ll be less likely to scrape up one of them.

Pull Ahead Of Your SpotImage source: WikiHow


4. Check your mirrors and do a walk-around

Of course, the first thing you’ll do before backing up is checking your mirrors. But, in order to be sure your mirrors are giving you the real sense of the space you want to slide into, you have to double-check. You should step out of the truck and compare the actual size of the spot with the picture that the mirrors gave you. If there are any inconsistencies, you should keep them in mind after returning to your cab. You will then adjust your mirrors, as they were probably situated for straight traffic driving before.

Check Your Mirrors And Do A Walk AroundImage source: WikiHow


5. Swing out wide with your cab

When you swing your front end away from the parking spot, your rear end will cut sharply toward the space you want to park in. You want the rear end to be angled into the spot diagonally before straightening it by turning the steering wheel slightly in the opposite direction.

Swing Out Wide With Your CabImage source: WikiHow


6. Straighten out your cab

After you have aligned the rear end with the spot, it’s time to align the cab as well. You should let your trailer slide a few more feet into the parking space, and then turn the wheel in the opposite direction once again. Your turns should be minimal at this point, so you avoid changing the angle of the trailer significantly. You might need to make a few corrections to your angle by pulling the truck out and reversing back again if you didn’t hit just the right angle with the first try.

Straighten Out Your CabImage source: WikiHow

Sleep in Safety

The time you spend sleeping in your truck is crucial for our safety. You must make sure that you have done everything you can to minimize the risk of theft or break-in. This means closing all your windows and putting up window screens if you have them. Remember to also keep any valuables out of sight. Bungee cords or seat belts can be used to latch your doors shut from the inside.

Have a Dash Cam Installed

Installing a dash cam is the next big step to secure semi truck parking. The sight of a cam alone can deter potential thieves. And if something bad does happen, you’ll be much more likely to find the culprit if you have them on video. This includes thefts, but also hit and runs, etc.

Dash CamImage source: Freepik

Get Truck Parking Apps

Your pre-trip planning is going to be much smoother if you utilize one of the many trucking apps that are out there. One of the most popular apps is the TruckerPath app. This app will provide you with a map of truck stops or areas that are safe to park. You can also use it to learn how busy some stops are at certain times of the day.

We hope these tips will help you get peace of mind while parked for the night. After all, a good night’s rest is crucial to good driving, and you can’t rest properly if you don’t feel safe or comfortable.

For more trucking tips follow the weekly Extra Mile vlog on our YouTube channel Extra Mile International Inc. Trucking Company or visit our Instagram profile @extramiletx.

Fleet Manager & Recruiter at Extra Mile International | + posts

Mia is a Fleet Manager and Recruiter at Extra Mile International, based in Chicago. Mia is over 5 years in the trucking industry, she even drow trucks for more than 3 years.