Best Places to Park When You Have No Choice

Now that the electronic logging mandate is in full effect and going nowhere fast, you might find you need to improve your outlook on trucker parking. Yes, it’s time to figure out the best places to park when you are out on the road and your digital companion tells you that you’ve run out of hours. Obeying the alerts helps ensure you maintain Department of Transportation compliance with your hours of service, which in turn  helps you keep the cost of your truck insurance down. Learn more about parking on demand as an OTR truck driver.

Free Public Parking at Rest Areas

Most states have public rest areas located along highways that allow you to park your truck without having to make a reservation or paying to park. The problem lies in that states are shutting down rest areas because of budget issues. More critically, a number of states including California, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania do not allow you to park overnight.

Yet overnight parking access is exactly what truck drivers need to do to maintain their hours of service regulations and keep trucker insurance costs down. So while rest areas are great when you can get to them, you need to know the law about how long you can expect to actually rest at these parking places. To find rest areas, you can use a road atlas, as well as truck driver apps that show you where truck parking is available.

Truck Driver and Reserved Parking at Truck Stops

The most common place to find truck drivers parked is at truck stops. The big named truck stop chains including Love’s, Pilot Flying J, TravelCenters of America, Road Ranger, Town Pump, and Roady’s Truck Stops will all offer the most availability for truck driver parking. All of the truck stop locations will have a different amount of truck parking.

While variables such as amount of land available and popularity/density of route play factors, to get an idea of how much parking each chain offers, consider some of the newest truck stop locations and how many parking spaces these offer for truckers:

  • Love’s Travel Stops opens a Charlotte, NC truck stop that has 69 truck parking spaces, as well as a Westmorland, CA truck stop with 82 truck parking spaces
  • Pilot Flying J opens three new travel centers from coast to coast—Kermit, TX has 81 truck parking spots; Midland, TX has 40 truck parking spots; and Monahans, TX has 79 truck parking spots

When you start trucking, if you have a dedicated route, you will likely pick up on a particular truck stop chain that you prefer. Every trucker has their preferences. Look for truck parking reservation programs that let you pay to reserve a parking space. Often you can exchange your fuel rewards points in exchange for parking time to save money.

Final Options for Parking on the Road

Other places you can park include parking in the grass on the side of the road along the exit ramps on highways. Keep in mind this is illegal in most cities and counties, and is widely considered a dangerous proposition.

Walmarts and other shopping centers may allow truck parking. However, these lots are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate for big rigs thanks to boulders and trees strategically positioned to discourage the practice.  The secret is to figure out the safest option based on your current location.  Planning appropriately-spaced rest spots into your route is the best course of action to remain rested and compliant in the age of ELDs.