Understanding Proper Truck Stop Etiquette
Among industries, similar to groups of people, there are specific guidelines and etiquette protocol expected to be followed, and the trucking profession is no exception. In addition to safety guidelines, as well as the do’s and don’ts of driving, truck drivers are expected to adhere to proper truck-driving etiquette. Since the early days when truckers communicated via CB-radio, this group of individuals share a special kinship, maybe even a secret code of sorts, just like pilots, military, police officers, and even golfers. It’s based on the concept of “We’re all in this together.”
In all groups of like-minded people, professional and personal alike, certain things are simply understood and honored. While the days of the CB-radio may not be so prevalent, the comradery is more alive than ever. So, whether you’re new to trucking, or a longtime driver that may have forgotten truck stop etiquette, here is a helpful guide.
Truck Stop Courtesy Tips
Even with all the conveniences that truck stops have to offer, there’s no denying at some point you’ll encounter frustrations. It may be another truck driver or perhaps a regular traveler who is rude, in a hurry, or downright inconsiderate. Take heed in knowing that when you practice truck stop etiquette, you’re doing your part in keeping yourself and others safe. The other person always has a personal story too.
- Don’t hold up the fuel lines. Remember all drivers are working on a timeline and need to refuel quickly. Once your tank is full, move your truck before heading in for a snack.
- Enter into truck stops slowly. Whether you’re driving into a truck stop that is busy or not, be sure to follow the standard traffic patterns and drive slowly.
- Observe your surroundings. For your safety, maintain an awareness of everything and everyone around you, and avoid poorly-illuminated areas.
- Use designated parking spots. When parking, stay within your lines and back into the space so the truck nose faces out. This makes it easier for everyone.
- Steer clear of “too-good-to-be-true” schemes. Unfortunately, there are lots of scammers online and walking among us. Don’t fall for any of them.
- Respect others’ privacy. There’s no denying that multi-day routes can cause loneliness, but refrain from knocking on the doors of other truckers unless there’s an emergency or you’ve received an invitation.
- Perform a pre-trip visual inspection before leaving the lot. Always do your walk-around inspection after you’ve been stopped for a period of time. From checking your tires, fluids, and load to looking for people or things, this quick assessment will keep you and perhaps others safe, and help you avoid unexpected accidents or delays.
- Be considerate of your parked neighbors. Like you, other truck drivers parked at a truck stop for some rest and rejuvenation. Keep music volume down and move around as quietly as possible. Whenever possible, turn the truck off rather than idling, as the exhaust soot will penetrate into other trucks. This is yet another reason why truckers should back-in.
- Clean up after yourself. Practicing the old adage “leave it better than you found it,” is ideal for truck stop etiquette. From cleaning up after yourself after using the shower and laundry facilities, to clearing away trash in the dining area, fuel island, or parking space. Don’t leave your mess for someone else to deal with.
Tips on Driving Etiquette
Truck drivers must be extremely attentive on the road, watching out for commuter drivers, road construction, and other truckers as well. With countless hours spent on the road, it’s crucial that you use caution and stay alert with those quick thinking and reaction skills always ready to engage. Following are the three top tips of truck driving etiquette.
- Practice safety guidelines. Besides always using a turn signal, plan those turns and activate your brakes well in advance. Compared to regular vehicles, you’re maneuvering an extra-large and heavy load, so be vigilant in your actions and consider the other drivers around you.
- Know the laws. Before heading out on a new route, familiarize yourself with the different road rules as these can vary state to state. For example, some states require semi-trucks to adhere to different speed limits and stay in specific lanes. Obeying these laws will keep traffic flowing smoothly and you’ll avoid being perceived as an ignorant driver.
- Use the Zipper Merge Method. Merging on a busy highway while moving at high speeds can be intense to say the least. By using the zipper merge method, you and the other drivers can continue on your way. If you’re not familiar with this technique, it boils down to taking turns with drivers in the adjoining lane, just like the alternating teeth in a zipper.
Be Kind and Use Common Sense
Practicing proper etiquette boils down to being respectful towards others, and a little can go a long way. As a trucker, there’s a ton of information to remember, but perhaps the golden rule of trucking is the simplest of all: Be courteous to others on the road, and put safety above all with every mile you drive.
For a personal perspective on truck stop etiquette, check out Happiness By The Mile’s video, “Trucker Etiquette | The Unspoken Trucker Code,” where she explains (for those who don’t already know) some polite ways to operate while traveling the interstates.