Truck parking safety tips from the Underride Network

Parked truck crashes are not and never have been fatigue related. Fatal and severe parked truck crashes happen before the driver ever gets behind the wheel! If you plan to park safely before you begin your trip the chances of an unsafely parked truck crash ever ocurring are miniscule! People stop being killed and being severely injured and disabled, they stop having to endure multiple painful operations, and we save the lives of children and entire families! Pre-plan your trip and clean your tape, so simple, so easy, and so sad that these lives could have been saved so easily!

“The Washington State Department of Transportation has stated, “Millions of dollars are spent each year to make highways safer and the roadside features more forgiving to errant drivers. Why, then, do we tolerate parked or abandoned vehicles to remain along our highways for extended periods of time? We have designed standards that require a ‘clear zone’ on limited access highways. Nothing can be placed in this zone without providing protection to the motorist in the form of a guardrail, barrier, crash cushions, or breakaway supports. Yet, we allow heavy vehicles to stand a few feet or even inches from the traveled lanes”

In 1991, the American Trucking Association published a poster titled “Trucks are Targets on Shoulders”, recommending that trucks should park at a location where you are not exposed to high-speed traffic.

A statement by the captain of the ATA America’s Road Team in the February 14, 2000, issue of Transport Topics further underscores the need for information and planning. He had been on a 2-week roundtrip from Vermont to the West Coast and, because of his careful planning, was able to find parking each night. He said, “Less experienced drivers or drivers who work for carriers that put a lot of pressure on them [to reach their destination on time] tend to have trouble finding places to park.” (NTSB Special Investigation Report -Truck Parking Areas.)

It is the responsibility of the government, safety regulators, law enforcement, truck driving training providers, fleet and company owners, shippers, receivers, and truck drivers to pre-plan safe truck parking or to recommend safe parking practices. Contact the receiver and establish best time for local parking, availability of spaces, does receiver have on-site parking and if not can this be accomplished for future regular shipments. What time does on-site parking open so arrival time can be pre-planned. Contact local private parking and make sure spaces will be available upon your arrival. Know the location of nearby rest areas. In case of emergency, establish locations of safer lower-speed roadways for emergency parking or when all locations are full or non-existant for safer parking to park illegally on safer 25 mph locations.

Pre-plan as part of your pre-trip procedures safe parking times and availability of parking locations.

Tips from

“70 percent of truck drivers wake with the sun and start driving in the morning. Driven by their desire to find parking space for the night, many simply prioritize finding a safe place to stop, get a meal, and sleep before additional rolling time (FreightWaves). A recent poll supports this logic. About two-thirds of respondent drivers said they now find parking lots full or almost full earlier in the evening, and only about 6 percent claim to drive at night (Overdrive).”

1. Use Radar to Find Open Spots. As part of an 8-state partnership with the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Iowa is using its share of a $25 million grant to install in-ground “puck” sensors and radar sensors that will help truckers locate open parking spaces in rest stops and private locations along I-80 (FreightWaves). Florida also installed a Truck Availability Parking System to monitor spaces at weigh stations and rest stop locations along heavily traveled interstates (FleetOwner).

2. Reserve a Parking Space. Several websites and mobile apps allow drivers to reserve parking spots online, some free and some for a fee, with the idea to integrate data with ELDs in the future. The idea is to help drivers plan their routes around safe, available parking. Available apps include TruckPark, TruckerPath, TA, Prime Parking, Truck Parking USA, and others.

3. Park with a Shipper of Choice. The terms “shipper of choice,” “receiver of choice,” and “preferred shipper” are often touted as best-case-scenarios for drivers and shippers alike. Such shippers are known to offer parking spaces to drivers for breaks, which earns them preferred status among weary drivers. Unfortunately, parking at shipper locations is not in abundance, but a new mobile app called Dock411 could change that. The app provides crowd-sourced driver reviews of loading dock locations and lets shippers outline services they offer to drivers, including parking. Shippers, take note: Rising freight demand, tougher regulations, and a current shortage of 60,000 drivers mean less available capacity for shippers. Because carriers will have the power to choose which customers they work with, it’s imperative to position your business as a preferred shipper. Offering amenities like safe overnight parking can go a long way in ensuring load coverage.

Changing arrival times with pre-trip planning would eliminate 3/4 of drivers looking for parking during the same evening hours, truckers and companies claim we must provide free parking rather than a simple change to their schedules. Reserve a parking space, yes, we have apps for this! Use only “Receivers of Choice” or pressure your receiver to provide 24 hour parking or to open during load arrival hours. Use apps or the telephone to check on availability of spaces during your planned arrival hours.

Include pre-trip safe parking planning in your safety manual or employee guide, in your safety posters, in your web site, in your new employee orientation and new driver training, in your employee lounge and bulletin board, in your annual reviews and training, and in your public safety awareness messages.

All government and agency websites and manuals should include pre-trip safe truck parking planning safety including public safety awareness campaigns.

Truck driver training must be required to include truck driver pre-trip parking safety planning.

Park under lights when available to increase visibility. Required in business districts during certain hours.

Always use triangles to provide thousands of extra feet of reaction time to oncoming motorists.

Always light emergency flashers when parking.

Always park on the lowest-speed roadway or location available. Crashes become fatal at about 30 mph and underride guards are only effective at or below 30 mph.

Check and use information from online parking availability guides.

Contact safety agencies or local law enforcement for safety tips for new unknown locations. Understand transportation corridors at dense population centers and rush hour or other issues such as parking availability issues during certain hours.

Locate rest areas and local parking-set-asides that might include low-speed streets for truck parking only or weigh stations provided for extra parking during low-availability of parking locations.

Use private parking as a positive safety resource..

Request your receiver provide on-site delivery parking areas.

It is illegal in most, or possibly all states to park on the shoulder or traveled way of county roads, and it is certainly never a safe practice!

Never park Trailer facing oncoming traffic disabling safety features such as tape and underride guards.

Never parked on blind corners or near hills that obstruct view of other motorists, use triangles to provide warning to unsuspecting motorists at these locations.

Fog disables tape and is deadly! Parking safety is critical during bad weather conditions, consider off-road locations as the most safe during adverse weather conditions.

Modern tape is ineffective without car headlights, just after dawn and just prior to dusk.

Small delivery trucks must also park safely, low-speed guards are a danger on most U.S. trucks.

Truck drivers have a moral responsibility to render aid if an accident happens. The truck is equipped with an extinguisher and usually crowbars. Tow chains and shovels might be available and the extra set of hands could save multiple lives. The truck driver should be trained in emergency procedures. If the vehicle is trapped under the truck or trailer and a spilled fuel fire is raging pulling the truck forward to drag the car away from the spilled fuel might be an last ditch safety maneuver. If the driver refuses to exit the cab then equipment and safety procedures will not be available to save lives and the driver should be charged for refusing to render aid possibly causing fatalities. Fire departments and emergency rescue should train police and local governments in crash procedures.

Moth to flame phenomenon, moth effect, direction of gaze, or target fixation. You tend to steer towards what you are looking at and at night we have severe depth perception issues. We expect to see red lights in the lane ahead of us and thus without warnings may steer towards the expected lights! See for a discussion of the issue and modern studies.

Reaction time is critical in rear end accidents, seeing danger and then reacting to the situation at highway speeds takes several critical seconds. Triangles provide several thousand feet of this critical reaction time as do warning flashers. All truckers should be trained in reaction time, highway speeds, and safety measures.

Red Dot Confusion, red is touted by government and industry as a warning color but at night everything on our roadways is either red or white lights? Crashes into red firetrucks decreased when they were painted flourescent green, red is not a warning color and may never have been. Green stop signs are many times more visible and we all have driven past red stop signs as they can blend into background colors.

Red and White Tape, Red versus fluorescent tape and reduced candle-power. Red tape has a very low candle-power rating when compared to fluorescent tape and has been proven less effective in studies for 30 plus years. Clinton administration in the 90’s over-ruled victims and their safety organizations recommendations for requiring fluorescent colors, TTMA and ATA lobbied for red tape as companies already commonly used this less effective safety color as part of TTMA recommended practices. Stop signs and fire trucks are lime green for a reason, less parked crashes into trucks and very poor daytime performance of red or even usually dirty white tape!

Invisible road film can reduce tape candle-power by up to 90%. Rag and Windex should be part of pre-trip preparation that includes cleaning tape, reflectors, and all lighting.

Regulatory national emergency in the U.S., dirty tape and lights and truck due to hill is traveling at 25 mph on an 55 mph highway and is virtually invisible with an underride guard only effective to 25 mph or 30 mph or is parked on an hidden shoulder due to curve ETC., preventable death is common and inexcuseable!!! Wake up industry and law makers!!! We have low voltage LED technology and solar charging, we can have automatic lights flashing when slow-speed or stopping occurs!!! Battery flashing low-voltage LED lights when parked or stopped and automatic hazard flashers whenever traveling at slow-speeds or laws requiring slow-speed use of hazard flashers when traversing hills ETC. We need laws requiring pre-trip cleaning of tape and lights which can lose 90 percent of candle-power due to invisible road film. Require roadside inspections to include cleaning of tape and reflectors.

Nothing to distinguish slow-moving or parked trucks, all trucks have the same ineffective red lighting. There is no warning system required such as flashing lights for the motoring public to determine if a truck is stopped, parked, or slow-moving!

Use your warning flashers when moving at extremely slow speeds such as on hills or during unexpected traffic slow downs to warn other motorists of the hazard.

Truckers think if parked voluntarily they do not need emergency equipment such as triangles as there is no emergency. I am not emergency parked, why would I need emergency equipment? Answer, to provide several thousand feet of critical reaction time.

Truckers do not understand rear guards are only effective to about 25 mph max speed and that speeds above this have a high fatality risk. Injury crashes become fatal crashes at around 30 mph and roadway speeds can often exceed posted limits.

Interstate Highways allow truck parking even though crashes are common and lethal at highway speeds. Emergency park only on highways and always use triangles.

In studies truckers commonly parked on shoulders, on-ramps, and exits voluntarily even if parking was available. Paid parking was a negative and simply not used by many truckers. Use paid parking as a positive safety resource.

Never park on on-ramps or exits.

There is no requirement that truckers pre-plan their trip to include safe parking availability even though it is common knowledge in many large city corridors at certain hours there might be shortages. It is common for truckers to wait during morning hours for parking availability at companies to discharge their loads. If your receiver does not open their lot until 7 AM and you arrive at 5 AM, you might illegally and unsafely park for two hours. The receiver has a responsibility to warn drivers or to open at appropriate hours and the driver has a responsibility to pre-plan his or her trip for arrival at the opening hour!

It is not a practice to train truckers to use much safer lower-speed roads if they must park illegally or if they can safely choose their emergency parking location. The chances of a fatal crash rapidly rise with roadway speeds above 25 mph. Truckers should know fatal speeds for underride guards and fatal speeds for roadways, safety manuals and trainers should include this basic safety knowledge or suffer the liability of lacking common sense safety awareness. Safety manuals should include safe parking pre-trip planning tools and procedures. Read and understand your company safety manual and parking safety procedures including provided company parking locations.

Illegal parking is not fatigue related, unsafe parking crashes are just as common and lethal as fatigue crashes. Park before you become fatigued and understand your employee rights to not be forced to drive fatigued.

Large cities should have programs and laws to reduce the parking safety problems especially in rush pre-morning hours. Cities can set aside low-speed streets for safe truck parking and use other methods to reduce illegal street parking such as allowing parking at weigh stations. Rest areas are for rest and local law enforcement and authorities have a responsibility to insure adequate safety and parking locations. They can work with truck stops and industry to monitor parking locations and availability and make this information available to truckers.

FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and NHTSA (National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration) and all local government and law enforcement agencies and trucking companies have a legal and moral liability to publicly train and recommend safe and common sense truck parking procedures and practices including pre-trip parking safety planning. Does your agency or company have parking procedures including pre-trip planning in your employee handbook or manual, on your website? Do you safety train in pre-trip parking safety. Safe parking posters in your employee lounge or gathering area? Does your agency recommend safe parking including pre-trip planning to the public and all drivers? What if you are sued for a fatality due to lax safe parking training or procedures, can you present your extensive parking training including pre-trip planning in your manual as evidence, unfortunately in America, the answer at 99% of companies and public agencies is NO! NHTSA and FMCSA simply blame victims as inattentive or allow truck drivers to falsely use the fatigue excuse! Cleaning tape and reflectors and pre-trip parking safety planning will end or prevent most unnecessary truck parking fatalities and serious injuries!

Parking safety links:

Truck crash statistics 2016 at

Mini-Guide to Safe Truck and Car Parking

Unsafe Parked Trucks

LoadDelivered: Addressing America’s Truck Parking Problem

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