Let’s be real. Parking a big rig can be pretty intimidating, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the area. Hell, I failed my first driver’s test because I couldn’t parallel park in my Nissan Sentra — a compact car. Whether or not you passed your road test with flying colors, applying your skills while on the open road is a lot more challenging than you might think. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best tractor trailer parking tips. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll be parking your trailer like a pro in no time!
Tractor Trailer Parking Tips
One of the most important things to do when parking your tractor trailer is to remember your training. Before you park, you need to assess the situation, figure out which maneuver you will use, and always pay attention to your surroundings. Knowing how to park your tractor trailer safely and properly is a crucial skill every driver needs to learn. If you’re wondering how to keep yourself, your trailer, and fellow drivers safe, then read on! One in five accidents occur in parking lots, so follow these tractor trailer parking tips to avoid any costly mistakes.
Plan Your Stops Beforehand
One of the best things you can do to ease some of the stress that comes with parking your tractor trailer is to be prepared! Mapping out your stops before you set off on your trip will be help you locate familiar truck stops that you feel comfortable parking in. There are plenty of apps out there that you can download. We’ve gone ahead and found the best navigation apps for truckers, so you don’t have to waste your time! Knowing where you will stop ahead of time will help you save time and keep you safe.
Make a Checklist
If you’re worried about parking your trailer, then it might be best to limit the number of stops you make. Create a list of everything you need to do while you’re at a stop. Then, try to get as much of it checked off at one stop. This will help you to avoid unnecessary stops along the way and reach your destination quicker.
Utilize Rest Stops
Rest stop areas are designed to make your life easier as a truck driver, so take advantage of them! Rest stops are a trucker’s paradise after a long stretch on the road. Here you can get a bite to eat, enjoy a hot shower, hook up to WIFI, and relax. One of the biggest perks that many truckstops offer is pull-through parking for tractor trailers. This makes your life a little easier since you can avoid the hassle of maneuvering into a tricky spot.
Say “No” To the End of the Row
If possible, try to avoid the spaces at the end of the rows where there tends to be more traffic congestion. Avoiding the end spots will help you get away from busier areas so that you can focus on maneuvering into your space. Having more space around you is always preferable when you are parking your tractor trailer, even if it’s towards the back of the lot. This may mean a longer walk to the rest area, but just think of it as an extension of your exercise routine!
Start With The Hard Part
You know by now that backing out of a space is an easy way to get into an accident. If you can’t find a pull-through parking spot, try backing into your space. This will save you the hassle of having to back out later, and you can get back on the road more easily. I know it’s not preferred, but backing into a space is much safer than backing out of one later. It might take a little extra time, but it will make for a smooth exit! We also recommend that you avoid parking near other trucks that must back out of their spaces, or if you notice that your neighbor is parked poorly. The last thing you want to deal with is damage to your trailer. If you don’t have any other option, take a picture and record the truck’s name and DOT number. In the unfortunate situation that an accident occurs, you can hold the other driver accountable for damaging your vehicle while you weren’t around.
Don’t Forget to Use Your Four-Ways
Truckstop pedestrians are not the most attentive bunch. Many of them are tired, distracted, and in desperate need of a nap. The best tractor trailer parking tip to avoid hitting sleepy pedestrians is to utilize your four-ways. Putting on your four-ways will increase the chance of them seeing you while you’re pulling in or backing into a spot. If they still don’t see you, don’t be afraid to use your horn. They may be annoyed, but it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Straighten Out Your Trailer
Do your best to line up your tractor and trailer when you park. Do your best to pull all the way into the spot. If there’s less of your vehicle sticking out of the space, there’s a lower chance that someone will hit you. No one wants to be parked next to the guy or gal with the crooked trailer, so do your best to get straightened out in your parking spot.
Parking a tractor trailer is tough stuff! Do you have any additional tips to add to this list that would help your fellow truckers? How about your experience parking at truckstops? We’d love to hear from you, let us know in the comments below!
For more tractor trailer parking tips from an experienced truck driver, check out our video below!