Truckers look forward to locating truck stops to purchase fuel and to get necessary repairs made. Drivers especially look forward to finding available parking spaces at the end of their shift. They know that they can look forward to getting rest or a good nights sleep. A commercial driver’s quality of life on the road often depends upon truck stops and their amenities. Truck Drivers depend upon them for fuel, repairs, food, rest and safety. Many drivers have pulled into them late at night only to find that there were no available parking spaces. This has forced them to continue driving in search of suitable places to park even though they may have been totally exhausted. Currently, there is a shortage of suitable safe places for drivers to park. Many drivers have been forced to park in unsafe places after being unable to find available parking space at truck stops. As a result some of these drivers have been robbed, injured or even killed.
Truck Stops are vital to the trucking industry and provide a vast array of comforts for commercial drivers. Truckers know they can eat, shower and relax and enjoy other amenities. Drivers often have favorite facilities which they frequent and they often try to get there early enough to get an overnight parking space. Initially, truck stops were small operations which replaced local filling stations on highways. However, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 which established an interstate highway system in the United States. The interstate system has affected every citizen if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we purchase has been on the Interstate System at some point.
Truck stops developed along these highways as a way for motorists to get fuel without having to leave the highways going into small towns looking for fuel. Eventually, as the trucking industry developed, they began offering more services. All provide at least the basics: fuel, weight scales and restrooms. Many provide repair services including mobile service vans which provide assistance to drivers stranded on the roads. Many offer towing services as well. They provide showers for drivers, information, faxing/data transmission services, clothes, souvenir shops, gaming centers, load board information, truck supplies, movie theatres, exercise rooms. Some even offer walking and running trail maps. Restaurants offer a variety of food choices for patrons. Lounge areas provide comfortable areas so truckers and travelers can relax and socialize with others. Drivers also have access to money transfer systems such as Comdata.
Many of these truck stops sit on ten to 30 or more acres of land. In fact many offer so many provisions and amenities that they don’t even refer to themselves as truck stops anymore. These state-of-art facilities call themselves travel plazas, stopping centers and traveler’s stops among other terms. Whatever they call themselves drivers appreciate them and enjoy the various amenities offered. Many drivers in the past have referred to truck stop food as a joke. However, many of these locations today offer a wide variety of food including many healthy options. Many offer fresh salads, broiled chicken as opposed to fried and low fat versions of favorite comfort foods including low fat desserts. Of course the traditional foods along with home cooked desserts are still available. Drivers can actually get very good meals in many of these facilities today.
Truck stops are plentiful along major routes. They are easy to find because they have signage posted along interstates and other highways. Drivers can be aware of upcoming locations well in advance of reaching them. Many of these facilities are part of large chains so generally speaking drivers know what to expect at any of its locations. Many drivers have favorites so they often plan their routes so they will be able to stop at their favorite truck stops when possible. Large fleets because of their large buying power are able to negotiate low fuel prices with major truck stop chains. As a result of these contracts, fleets mandate where their drivers stop for fuel.
Truck stops certainly are not just for truckers anymore. Truckers, families and business travelers alike frequent them these days. In some areas truck stops are regular meeting places for local residents. They are a pleasant stopping place for some and a designation point for others.
Originally published Feb. 6, 2012 on Ezine.com