A truck stop can be a trucker’s best friend or worst nightmare. But, as it turns out, truck drivers have different opinions about what makes a great truck stop.
The World’s Largest Truckstop, along I-80 in Walcott, Iowa, opened in 1964. The owner, Bill Moon, is said to have asked drivers for their advice on what would make a trucker’s life more enjoyable, and then built his truck stop accordingly.
For me, having done both regional and long-haul trucking, these are the basics that were important to me:
- Easy-on, easy-off highway access, not requiring me to figure out how to drive around secondary roads while mingling with four wheelers.
- A clean and reasonably well-maintained facility and ample-sized parking lot. Simply put, if you don’t care about your place and my comfort, then I will just go somewhere that does.
- Competitive fuel prices for companies of all sizes— not just the large ones—and high-speed fuel pumps that are maintained and have their filters changed as needed. I dislike wasting my time on slow pumps and clogged filters. It’s also helpful to have garbage cans at the pumps that are regularly maintained.
- Prompt and courteous employees who are trained and understand I am the customer and their job is to provide a service to me.
- Free showers available in a clean and private area with fuel purchase and a well-maintained laundry room.
- A restaurant that is open 24/7 and looks like it has passed its food safety and sanitation inspections. The restaurant should provide more than just the traditional meat and potatoes—a variety of healthy food choices, from low carb to vegetarian, should also be on the menu.
- Along the same track, a truckers’ lounge with charging stations and free Wi-Fi.
- Did I say, ”Free coffee with fuel purchase”?
A step up with trucker-in-mind conveniences
When drivers have a little time off, whether they are spending the weekend waiting to unload or they are gone for four or five weeks at a time, a truck stop can truly be a home away from home. Here are some additional things truckers are looking for in a truck stop:
- With CSA tracking almost every mechanical and driver issue these days, a well-supplied truck parts store can come in very handy. These stores should include light bulbs, straps and ratchets, bars, placards, paperwork, and other supplies.
- A well-managed truck service center with trained CMV technicians is tough to beat. Some of the most common CSA violations biting motor carriers today are the BLT of brakes, lights, and tires. A truck stop with a well-managed and transparent shop that has fair rates can definitely provide some needed peace of mind when services are needed.
- For the gamers out there, many truck stops are providing game rooms where drivers can relax and test their skills.
- Many folks don’t realize the real reason many of us are out there on the road—family. A gift store stocked with unique and thoughtful items that we can bring home to our families makes it easy for us to let them know we’re thinking of them.
- Mail or shipping services, such as USPS, FedEx, and UPS, can be important when items need to be delivered.
- Though most of us have some form of TV in our trucks, it can be a nice change of pace to visit a movie theater to relax and socialize with other drivers.
- Whether you need a trailer washout or to polish some chrome for a new customer, a truck wash is almost a necessity in any good truck stop.
- Some drivers have a pet who rides along with them. Pet washes and walking areas can be a real attraction to drivers who travel with pets..
A lot has changed in trucking since the old days when Bill constructed his I-80 truck stop. Back then, his trucking museum and theater room were cutting edge. Now, there are many more items we can cover, such as an inside exercise area, a custom truck/chrome shop, a barbershop, a chiropractor/DOT physician, a dentist, and libraries.
Technology is playing a big role in modern truck stops as well. Some offer IdleAire, a high-tech parking lot hookup that powers up rigs and allows drivers to turn off their diesel engines and still enjoy heat, air conditioning, electricity, high-speed Internet, and satellite TV.
So, what makes a great truck stop in your opinion?