Professional truck drivers have a special place in their hearts for truck stop etiquette—a code of conduct built around safety, respect and support for fellow truckers. And they don't take kindly to those who skirt the code or altogether ignore these truck stop tenets.
Truck stops are more than highway-adjacent hubs for snacking, showering and sleeping. They're micro-communities with transient residents who share a finite amount of space with a rotating cast of neighbors. Moods, experience levels and preferences differ from trucker to trucker at these roadside hives, but etiquette is the equalizer.
Manners. Decorum. Decency. Politeness. Unfortunately, these traits aren't part of our DNA—they're taught. In the same way that parents and adult role models instill good habits in kids, veteran truckers pass on the essentials of truck stop etiquette to less experienced drivers.
Broadly speaking, truck stop etiquette is about being professional, courteous and friendly. But if you're looking for a rundown of specific dos and don'ts, keep reading. Here's our list for treating fellow truckers well and setting a good example the next time you pull into a truck stop.
How you behave at a truck stop says a lot about you as a driver—and a person. Your actions at the fuel island, inside the store and throughout the parking lot will signal to other truckers whether you have your etiquette stripes. If you're a consummate professional, you do these things without fail at truck stops.
The sheer number of people passing through truck stop restrooms and showers each day is staggering. That's all the more reason to do your part to keep these shared facilities as clean as possible. Washing your hands is a must, as is keeping water in the sink and paper towels in the trash can. Like restrooms, truck stop showers are cleaned regularly but that's not a license to leave a mess.
There's plenty of parking reserved for big rigs at truck stops. Unfortunately, though, not all truckers park in designated spots. Don't leave your truck at the fuel island or in areas that will make it difficult for fellow drivers to navigate the lot. Most stops have clearly marked spaces for trucks—use them! Other truck stop parking rules include backing in and pulling out as well as avoiding spots at the end of rows.
Life on the road can be unforgiving. Truck drivers are no strangers to breakdowns, mishaps and the miserable truth of Murphy's Law. That's why it pays to take a karmic approach to trucking. Be on the lookout for rookie truck driver mistakes at truck stops and offer guidance. Newbies lean on more experienced drivers, so treat the truck stop like an asphalt-covered classroom and drop some knowledge. And, on the flip side, don't hesitate to ask for help when you're facing a task that's a two-person job.
If your general life philosophy revolves around the Golden Rule, this one's a slam dunk. You already greet people with a smile, embrace decency, show others respect and commit random acts of kindness. There's no guarantee your truck stop experience will be a pleasant one, but you have the ability to make someone's day brighter when you adopt this demeanor. Make it a personal challenge!
If you love the company you're driving for, then by all means preach the gospel at truck stops. Networking and discussing the ups and downs of working for different carriers is a natural part of riffing with other road warriors. Take these opportunities to give others a glimpse into your employer and to ask questions about theirs. At JLE, our drivers receive a $3,000 referral bonus for recruiting qualified drivers—$1,500 when they're seated and $1,500 when they hit the 90-day mark. Some Driver Talent Ambassadors, our recruiters on the road, are putting 2, 3 or 4 drivers in seats and making a great additional income. Learning is good; earning is even better.
If you're scanning this article, stop scrolling! You're definitely going to want to read this section. Steering clear of these truck stop no-nos should keep you in good graces with other drivers, and you can't put a price on that. But truckers who don't abide by these guidelines will find themselves with few allies for the duration of their visit.
Gas up and roll out. That's the rule at fuel islands, yet most truckers have witnessed discourteous drivers leave their rigs blocking the pumps while they run inside to shower, grab a bite or fill out paperwork. This is trucking 101 stuff, so don't embarrass yourself by inconveniencing your peers. Everyone's on a timetable to deliver, and the driver behind you might need to refuel and get back on the road. Plus, some truck stops are taking punitive measures.
Slow down and mind your surroundings. Trucks aren't the only vehicles buzzing around at truck stops. You're in a confined space with 18-wheelers, four-wheelers and two-wheelers that are coming and going in all directions—not to mention the pedestrian traffic. As a professional truck driver, you owe it to yourself and those around you to proceed with caution when the consequences could be fatal.
Rough days on the road can certainly lead to grumpiness or a desire to be left alone. They can also lead to enjoyable conversations with others who've been there, done that. Whenever you cross paths with other truckers at a truck stop, don't assume they're in the mood to socialize. Be friendly and respectful, even that means respecting a trucker's need for solitude when you're looking for company.
To put it in trucker terms, always take the high road. Drivers who disregard truck stop etiquette are sure to push your buttons. Their actions are going to make you shake your head, honk your horn and decry the day they got their CDL. That said, no good comes from confronting unprofessional drivers or stooping to their level. The best antidote for bad behavior is setting a good example. If things go from bad to worse, notify the truck stop staff or call the police if poor judgment crosses over into criminal activity or you see signs of human trafficking.
Loose lips sink more than ships; they can also sink your trucking career. Chatting up other truckers at the truck stop is completely normal, but they don't need to know what you're hauling. Thieves target valuable freight and personal possessions in your cab, so be vague about what's inside your rig. Cargo theft is a real threat. Make polite conversation but be discreet, particularly if you're staying at the truck stop overnight.
At JLE, our flatbed truck drivers are true professionals on the road, at truck stops and everywhere in between. Do you have what it takes to join our elite team? Apply today and be part of a family that's Proudly Driven.