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Where Do Owner Operators Park Their Trucks
May 23, 2022
Where do owner operators park their trucks? They have to sleep at some point, after all. More importantly, eventually they have to go home! Since they own their trucks, they don’t have a company lot to leave them in. And you’d think if they were all parking them at home we’d see a lot more of those trucks parked in our neighborhoods.
This is more than just a question of idle curiosity for people who want to know. If you’re considering becoming an owner operator, this is actually a hugely important and practical question.
You’re going to own your truck, so you want to be sure that you have a place to park it that’s safe and secure. It’s a huge investment on your part, so you definitely want to get this right.
There are a lot of different ways you can handle this, so we’ll be as comprehensive as possible as we explain where do owner operators park their trucks.
Where Do Owner Operators Park Their Trucks? A Few Different Options
First, a caveat. Laws about how and where you can park your truck will vary not just from state to state or city to city, but even from neighborhood to neighborhood. You should always check with the local authorities to be certain that what you’re doing is legal.
Owner-operators must consider how and where to park their trucks for the night, especially when on extended trips. Truck stops, warehouses, rest areas, Walmart lots, and local trucker pubs are all potential overnight locations for an owner-operator’s truck. Some of these locations may offer reduced parking rates or discounts. If the Driver shows a valid IDP/DQ license and qualifies for special programs or businesses catering to truckers.
Additionally, some states have implemented laws. That only allows owners with registered authority to stay in travel centers operated by major carriers. This is designed so the larger companies don’t overcrowd rest stops and look after the little guy by giving them options too. Ultimately the choice lies with the driver in deciding which parking option will suit him or her best at any given location.
Parking at Home
The easiest and most convenient option is always going to be to park at home. A lot of owner operators who live in rural areas and have the space for it just park their rig in their driveway. Sometimes they’ll arrange to leave the trailer someplace else, like a local grocery store, and then bobtail it home. But it’s not uncommon for these drivers to just keep the whole rig parked on their property.
There are some clear advantages to that. Not having to arrange for a ride to and from your parking spot is great, but the peace of mind that comes with being able to look out your window and see your truck is also nice.
Parking at home isn’t limited to drivers out in the country, either. Even in small towns and suburbs, a lot of owner operators park at home. In those cases they almost never bring the whole rig home, though. They’ll find someplace they can safely store their trailer and bobtail it home.
Where HOA’s are less common
Admittedly, that’s more common in small towns where HOA’s are less common. In areas that tend to have HOAs, they often frown on parking your truck at home. But if you drive through the neighbourhoods of any small blue-collar town, odds are you’ll spot a couple of trucks parked in front of homes or even in driveways.
You can always call up the manager of the local grocery store and ask if they’re ok with you parking your trailer or even your whole truck there. In most cases they’re fine with it. Usually, if they have a problem, it’s because they’ve had a bad experience with owner operators parking their trucks there before. So, when you do find a store that’s willing to let you park, be appreciative. Don’t dump a bunch of trash everywhere. Park somewhere out of the way, and be polite.
Sometimes you’ll have to pay to park somewhere. The amount is usually pretty reasonable. While free parking is great, it’s not always going to be an option. So be prepared to spend a little bit of money on parking if you have to.
Parking at home is one time you have to be especially aware of the local ordinances. The weight of your truck can damage asphalt and concrete, and it’s not uncommon for the city to have laws against driving trucks through residential areas. Even if they don’t, you might want to be sure that your driveway can handle the weight of your truck.
Park at the Shipper or Receiver
Another fairly easy and convenient solution to where do owner operators park their trucks is to simply leave it at the shipper or receiver. While there might be a commute for you, it could definitely reduce your deadhead miles to just leave the truck there overnight.
You might even be able to park right at the dock. That can really speed things up when it comes to loading and unloading. You’d be surprised how many shippers and receivers actually like to have the trucks right there, ready to go when they open in the morning.
Just be sure to call ahead and make sure you have permission to do it. Otherwise you’ll end up arriving at the dock just to be turned back. That’s deadhead miles now, eating into your profits.
Still, most shippers and receivers are fine with owner operators parking there. It’s not just more convenient for you, it’s more convenient for them, too. They can be more efficient with their operation when the trucks they need to load and unload are there waiting for them in the morning. So, things like this are a win-win.
Parking At The Truckstop
No doubt you’ll park at truck stops when you have an overnight job. That is, after all, part of why they exist. A truck stop is a great place for you to stop, stretch your legs, use a bathroom, grab snacks, and fuel up the truck. And it’s also a great place to park overnight when you need a rest.
What you may not realize is that plenty of truck stops can be a great place to park your truck while you’re home, too. They definitely have the room, and they’re safe. You can be certain that your truck won’t be damaged there, it’s out of traffic. And there are enough people around that no one is going to break into it.
No matter where you live, there are probably several truck stops within fairly easy driving distance for you. You’ll need a ride to and from the truck stop, but that’s easily arranged. And with rideshare services becoming so common, you should easily be able to arrange a ride even if your friends or family are unavailable.
As with anywhere else, you do need to be sure and clear it with the manager of the truck stop, first. It’s unlikely they’d just tell you no, but they might want you to commit to fueling up your truck at their stop before each run as compensation. Since you’d probably be doing that anyway, that’s really no big deal.
Parking there for an extended period of time
Even if they don’t want anything like that from you. It’s still common courtesy to let them know that you’re parking there for an extended period of time. You’re still parking on their property and it’s extremely rude to park there while you’re home and not even ask their permission first. They’d be well within their rights to have your truck removed.
Once you know you’ve been cleared to park there, park in the back of the lot where there’s less traffic. That way you’re less likely to be in the way, and you’re less likely to have your truck dinged by the other cars and trucks coming in and out of the lot. It’s also probably a good idea to check on it every few days.
Where Do Owner Operators Park Their Trucks: Parking at Walmart
Maybe you’re wondering where do owner operators park their trucks because you’ve seen big rigs parked at Walmart and wondered if that’s even legal. Walmart parking lots can be an attractive place for owner operators to park. They’re usually huge, so there’s plenty of room. They’re also usually well lit, and so they feel safe. And since a lot of Walmart’s are open 24/7, you have easy access to a bathroom and plenty of food, snacks, and drinks.
People ask if it’s legal because quite often you’ll see signs at the entrance to the parking lot that say “No Trucks.” Usually, those only mean that they don’t want trucks entering the parking lot that way. There are designated delivery entries they want trucks to use.
However, there are times they also don’t want trucks parking in the main parking lot, and that’s understandable. You’re occupying spaces that could be used by multiple customers. Plus, the weight of your truck might be messing up the surface of the parking lot.
If you want to park at a Walmart overnight, drive in through the delivery entrance, park in the park, and go inside to talk to the manager. Ask their permission to park overnight in the back- it helps if you also do some shopping while you’re there. More often than not they’ll be fine with it.
Don’t abuse their hospitality
As always, don’t abuse their hospitality. Drivers who toss their trash, cigarette butts, and urine jugs on the ground. Where the park aren’t just disgusting, they ruin it for everyone else. Plenty of quality parking spots are now off limits to owner-operators because some drivers couldn’t be trusted to behave like adults. If somebody gives you permission to park behind their store, they’re assuming you’re going to clean up after yourself.
It’s never a good idea to pull into a Walmart parking lot at night and stay there without first asking for permission. For one thing, while it might feel safe, that isn’t necessarily true. Unless you’re parked right up by the front of the store, which is almost never allowed anyway. The security cameras won’t have a good view of you. And once the store closes and the parking lot clears, you’re a big, easy target.
When you park in the back, you’re a lot less visible. Most people will never even know you were there. Plus, there are usually more security cameras back there, and you’ll be well within their view. Parking back by the loading docks is much safer.
Parking at a Walmart can be a great option for an overnight stay, but it’s not usually a good idea for parking while you’re home. Most store managers aren’t bothered by you parking there overnight and then leaving in the morning. But they definitely don’t want a whole truck parked there for days on end. They don’t usually have enough space to let you do that anyway. Your truck would constantly get in the way of their regular deliveries.
Where Do Owner Operators Park Their Trucks: Parking on the Roadside
Anyone who’s been driving along the highway late at night has passed at least a few trucks that have clearly stopped for the night. Those drivers just pulled over onto the shoulder, shut the truck off and went to sleep.
While that’s definitely something you can do, we have to point out that this is just about the least safe way to park your truck. You definitely can’t do this if you’re parking the truck while you’re at home.
Parking on the side of the road. While you sleep, should really only be done if you’re too tired to keep driving safely, and there’s no other place to park. It also might be illegal in some places. So it’s a good idea to call the local DOT and ask if it’s ok. It’s also a good idea to get the name of the person who told you that it’s ok.
Be sure to park in some place where other drivers will be able to clearly see you and your hazard signs. That means don’t park right after a sharp bend in the road, or anyplace where the local landscape obscures visibility.
Be very careful
Be very careful- a big truck parked in an isolated section of highway is a tempting target. Lock your doors, for sure. Plenty of owner operators have stories about their friends who parked by the side of the ride and woke up to the sound of somebody trying to break into their truck. Stories like that are exactly why so many drivers carry guns.
Since it’s so dangerous, we really want to emphasize again that this is something that should only be done. When you have no other option, and continuing to drive any further would be dangerous. Otherwise, it’s always better to at least find a rest stop to park in.
Parking in Front of Your House
If you can’t park in your driveway, you might want to just park in front of your house. Before you do that, check with your HOA if you have one, and then check with the local authorities to make sure it’s legal.
You’d be surprised at how many places don’t mind having big rigs parked in the street. But there are also a lot of places where it’s only legal if you park there for an hour or less.
Where owner operators park their trucks depends on whether you’re talking about overnight stops. Where they park while they’re off work. You actually have far more options for overnight stops. Because lots of people and businesses don’t mind having you there overnight when you’re going to be gone in the morning. Parking while you’re at home is trickier. Most owner operators prefer to just park in their driveway if they can, but it’s not always possible. In these cases you’ll need to contact local grocery stores, strip malls, or even trucking companies to see if they’re willing to let you park.
About Booker Transportation
Booker Trans is 100% Owner Operator. It is our belief that an Independent Owner is the best way to get a customers freight delivered timely and safely. Booker is a leading Refrigerated Carrier providing the best lease options in the industry for today’s Owner Operators. Monthly and Yearly Awards, Longevity Bonuses, and the Free tires for Life of Lease Program, are just a few examples of what Booker Trans offers the Owner Operator. Booker Trans has built it’s success upon working partnerships with Customers, as well as Agency Relationships built over the last 20 years. Those same relationships are what makes consistent year round freight possible.
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