Right Driver

How do you keep safe at a truck stop?

Truck stops provide an opportunity for thieves to take advantage of drivers who are not diligent. Ensuring your safety and that of your load is essential. You’ll learn over time which are the good truck stops and which ones you need to take more care with. The main risks are:

  • Theft of cargo
  • Intentional damage (graffiti, vandalism, tampering with equipment)
  • Driver assault
  • Theft of fuel
  • Poorly maintained grounds (e.g. potential to slip on ice)
  • Unhygienic services (e.g. potential for illness)
  • Poor quality sleep leading to driving fatigued the next day.

What to watch out for:

  • Poor quality lighting
  • No surveillance cameras
  • Suspicious people loitering
  • Poorly maintained buildings (e.g. broken windows and graffiti means no one is monitoring it)

How can you minimise your chances of being caught out?

  1. Choose a reputable truck stop: Select truck stops that have a good reputation for security and amenities – you can often find reviews online. Talk to other truckers and check for their experiences. Look for well-lit areas, secure parking, and a visible presence of staff or security personnel.
  2. Avoid the end spots: end spots have more than their share of incidents with drivers manoeuvring around and misjudging their trailer swing or off-tracking.
  3. Park in a well-lit area: When parking your truck for the night, opt for well-lit areas within the truck stop. Good lighting can deter potential thieves and provide better visibility. It’s even better if your truck is in direct line of sight of a security camera.
  4. Get sorted out: If you’re fueling, go in, get any food you need, and park immediately after fueling. Then you don’t need to get out.
  5. Lock your truck: Always lock your truck’s cab and trailer when you’re not in or near it. Use additional security measures like steering wheel locks, kingpin locks, or trailer locks for extra protection. Isolate any auxiliary equipment such as tail lifts and cranes. Lock external toolboxes. Remove remote controls for sideloaders and cranes and keep them in the cab.
  6. Don’t trust anyone: Check ID for anyone that wants to speak to you that you don’t know. Don’t trust anyone who knocks at your window. Keep your cab curtains closed. Someone knocking at your window may be trying to distract you from their accomplice somewhere else around your truck.
  7. Be aware of scams: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid buying anything you don’t need.
  8. Back up your truck so that the doors can’t be opened: If possible, positioning your truck to make it impossible to open the doors will help with security.
  9. Avoid walking between trucks: those narrow, shaded spaces are not ideal for you to be accosted in.
  10. Secure valuables: Keep valuable items out of sight, or better yet, take them with you. Don’t leave laptops, smartphones, or other valuable items in plain view inside the cab.
  11. Be vigilant: Be aware of your surroundings and watch for any suspicious activity or individuals in the area. You’re most likely to be a victim when you go to the shop or take a shower. Listen for unusual sounds but be careful you are not being baited to exit your truck. Trust your instincts; if something feels off, consider moving to a different location.
  12. Find other drivers you know: If possible, locate other drivers you know for added security. There’s safety in numbers, and having someone else around can help deter potential threats.
  13. Use security features: Many modern trucks are equipped with GPS tracking and security systems. Ensure these are active and functioning correctly.
  14. Avoid isolation: Try to avoid parking in secluded or isolated areas of the truck stop. Park near other trucks where there’s a sense of community.
  15. Maintain communication: Stay in touch with your dispatch or company. Let them know your location and schedule, especially if you change your plans or location.
  16. Follow any recommendations from the truck stop and your company: Familiarise yourself with the specific rules and regulations of the truck stop you’re using. Some places may have unique policies or guidelines for parking and security. Plus, follow your company’s policies for safety.
  17. Get adequate rest: Fatigue will impair your judgment and reaction time. Ensure you get enough rest before driving, and don’t push yourself to continue driving if you’re too tired.
  18. Before you leave: always check that your trailer is still hitched and someone hasn’t pulled the release pin.

If you are the victim of an attack, comply with the requests of the assailant(s). Don’t be a hero. Thieves just want an easy win.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

Posted in Advice
Recent Posts