For truck drivers, finding a place to safely park and sleep can be a hassle. Whether you pull into an on-ramp shoulder, a truck stop, or a rest area on the highway, you may be violating hours of service (HOS) regulations and you could even face traffic fines. Finding a spot to park and rest is the first obstacle, and your safest options are overnight truckstops that have the space to accommodate big rigs and other trucks. Your next obstacle is getting a great night of sleep!
Here, you can learn how to get that great night of sleep that you deserve on the road. But first, it’s important to remember what trucking regulations say about sleeping in your rig.
What Do the Regulations Say?
Created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the hours of service (HOS) regulations are the rules that govern how long a driver can operate a truck on a specific amount of rest or sleep. For instance, these regulations mandate at least a 30-minute nap to allow a driver to drive eight hours consecutively.
These regulations are in place for both “property-carrying” drivers and “passenger-carrying” drivers. For your rest periods at overnight truckstops, it is more important to understand the regulations for “property-carrying” drivers, which include the long-haul drivers.
The hours of service rules state that a driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. This means 10 hours of rest or sleep, but sleeping is preferred. These regulations also put a 14-hour limit on driving, this includes any work done on the carrier. Unfortunately, this means that if you wait too long for a load, you and your rig could be spending the night parked instead of driving. Remember that if these regulations are broken, you could be facing some heavy fines!
In short, make sure that you get the rest that you are supposed to get.
4 Tips for Safely Sleeping at Overnight Truckstops
Understanding sleeping regulations is only the first part of catching a few z’s at overnight truckstops. Next, it is essential to know how to safely sleep in these areas. So, here are 4 quick tips to help make sure that you stay safe!
1. Park Closer to Other Vehicles
Like drivers of normal vehicles, it is safer to stay where there are a lot of people. If you don’t have to, do not pull over or park at a rest area that looks deserted or isolated. Dark, deserted areas could put you at risk of attack or theft. When possible, park near other drivers to lower the risk of a thief messing with you or your truck.
2. Have Protective Devices Handy
The ability to protect yourself is also very important. When stopping at overnight truckstops or any rest area for the night, it might be helpful to carry pepper spray, a club, or a knife. Whatever protective device(s) you choose to carry, ensure that you know how to safely use them. If used incorrectly, any of these devices can end up putting you in danger.
3. Pull Through Parking is Your Best Friend
Though it is safer to park near other trucks or vehicles, you should also consider finding pull-through parking. This will guarantee that you will be able to escape if need be. This way, you won’t be stuck trying to back out of a spot. If you cannot find a pull-through parking spot, then opt to back into one. You will then be able to leave quickly in the case of an emergency.
4. Lock Those Doors
This last safety tip is simple: lock your doors. Locking your truck’s doors while you are sleeping will protect you from any unwanted guests or thieves. So, lock up and stay safe!
5 Items to Pack for a Great Night of Sleep
Now that you know how to safely rest and sleep at overnight truckstops, here are a few items that you can pack to help you get the great night of sleep that you need while hauling.
Yes, a sunshade can be a fantastic item, even at night! Mostly used during the day, a sunshade can also help to eliminate any extra unwanted light at night. Eliminating any unnecessary light and making the inside of your truck as dark as possible will help you fall asleep quicker and ensure that you wake up less during your off-duty time.
If you don’t want to pack a sunshade, you can opt for a smaller version…a sleeping mask. A sleeping mask will work in a very similar way, but some people don’t like the feeling of something wrapped around their heads. If that is you, then this might not be the best option. In more extreme cases, you can even opt to use both at the same time. But make sure that you find a sleeping mask that suits what you are looking for.
White Noise Machine
The next item has to do more with your hearing, rather than your vision. Every truck driver has different noise preferences. Some like the natural noises of the truck stop, and some don’t. Whichever you prefer, there are items that you can use to aid you in getting a good night’s sleep at overnight truckstops.
For those that like some noise while they sleep, but don’t want to keep their windows cracked, there is the option of a white noise machine. These machines will project a light static noise much like a fan or television static. Small white noise machines can be found and bought online or at stores like Walmart.
On the other hand, some truckers may prefer to sleep with as little noise as possible around them. To attain such silence or the least amount of noise as possible, you should consider using a pair of earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
Mattress Topper / Pad
Another item that can help ensure that you get a great night of sleep is a mattress topper or pad. A mattress topper will help to make the surface of your bed or cot more comfortable. This will help you fall asleep more easily and it will also prevent body soreness. Using a mattress topper or pad instead of a sleeping bag will be more beneficial to you in the long run.
Humidifier / Dehumidifier
Though rare, bringing a humidifier or dehumidifier on the road could be a good idea. Using one of these will help to moderate the humidity level in your truck, ensuring that you are always comfortable. This is a better alternative to keeping your truck idle while you rest.
The last item that can help you get a great night of sleep is a little more expensive. But, this item is a great investment for career truck drivers. An APU is an auxiliary power unit that can be used to power the auxiliary equipment within your cab. It will substantially reduce the cost of idling. This item will allow you to power any items that may help you regulate the inside of your cab or can power the cab itself so you can stay comfortable and get the sleep that you deserve.
Go Get Those Z’s
After reading this guide to getting great sleep at overnight truckstops, you should be equipped with all the knowledge you need to get a good night of sleep on the road. Grab your sleeping mask, earplugs, and APUs, and cuddle up for a refreshing slumber!
What do you normally pack for sleeping in your truck? Let us know in the comments!