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|9 Tips for Protecting Your Truck from Damage at Truck Stops|
As an independent owner-operator, you may not realize how many accidents occur at truck stops. Many truck stops were built in the 1970s when trucks were smaller and there were fewer trucks on the road. Today, there are more commercial trucks in transit at any given time and they are larger in size. On average, semi-trucks in the ‘70s were 40 feet in length. Today, semi-trucks average between 45 to 53 feet long and are built about a foot wider. Bigger trucks are more difficult to maneuver, especially in trucking spaces that were built for smaller vehicles.
Another factor that impacts the increasing number of accidents is the high rate of turnover and subsequent new drivers entering the industry due to the well-documented truck driver shortage. Drivers with less experience have an increased likelihood of causing accidents in truck stops.
An accident involving a commercial semi-truck can be very expensive. Average deductibles for owner-operators range from $5,000 - $10,000; it is easy for a fender-bender in the parking lot to cost $5,000 or more. Not only do you have to pay the deductible if you are involved in an accident, but you also have down time that can cost you missed loads, tow charges and per diem costs. Also, every time you make a claim your premiums are subject to increase.
Here is a list of 9 tips to help you protect your truck in the truck stop environment.
1. Go to the back of the lot where you are less likely to be involved in an incident.
2. Nose your way into a space so that there is a higher likelihood that your trailer will be hit than your truck. Trailer damage tends to be less expensive in repairs than damage to your truck.
3. Try to find a space where you have space on one side or the other. For example, try parking next to a light pole or other immovable structure that will give you extra space.
4. Park away from heavily trafficked areas in the truck stops. For example, avoid parking near the restaurant or shop area where there is a lot of in-and-out traffic.
5. Try to park in-between other trucks that look like they’re planning to be parked for awhile to mitigate your risk.
6. Record the license plate number, unit number and name of the company of the vehicles you are parking next to in case you notice damage on your truck.
7. Be wary of rookie drivers that look like they are practicing driving and parking in the truck stops.
8. Leave your dash cam running when you leave your vehicle for a period of time, like taking a shower or having dinner. A dash cam will record what’s going on in front of your truck. This is especially useful if you had to back into the space because the dash cam will record what is happening in front of your rig. Hopefully, the dash cam will record enough information if you are hit to make a claim.
9. Try to land early so that you are able to get a better spot rather than waiting until later. It’s worth it to park a little earlier so that you are not involved in an accident, which will cost you more money in the long run than the couple of hours you might lose by turning in earlier.
These 9 tips will help you protect your truck when at a truck stop as well as reduce your down time and take pride in your vehicle. By following these tips you have a better chance of keeping your big rig on the road and making money!
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