Truck stop

Truck stop

A truck stop is a commercial facility that provides fuel, parking and usually food and other services to long-haul trucks. Truck stops are usually located on or near a busy road and consist (at the very least) of a diesel grade fueling station with bays wide and tall enough for modern tractor/trailer rigs and have a large enough parking area to accommodate from five to over a hundred trucks or other heavy vehicles.


The truck stop originated in the United States in the 1940s, as a reliable source of diesel fuel not commonly available at filling stations. This, coupled with the growth of the Interstate Highway System, led to the creation of professional haulage and companion truck stop industries.

Truck stop services

The smallest truck stops may consist of only a parking area, a fueling station and perhaps a diner restaurant. Larger truck stops may have convenience stores of various sizes, showers, a small video arcade, and a TV/movie theater (usually just a projector with attached DVD player). The largest truck stops, like Iowa 80 (the largest in the world), may have several independent businesses operating under one roof catering to a wide range of travelers' needs, and may have several major and minor fast-food chains operating a small food court. Larger truck stops also tend to have full-service maintenance facilities for heavy trucks, as well as vehicle wash services dimensionally large enough to accommodate them. Some truck stops operate motels or have them adjacent. The refueling area almost always offers dual pumps, one on each side, so large trucks can fill both tanks at once (the second referred to as the "slave" or "satellite" pump).

Fuel islands at most truck stops can get very crowded. Most of the trucking companies have accounts with one or two truck stops and require their drivers to fuel there. They save money by cutting a deal with a truck stop chain to exclusively fuel with them. The problem with this is that it appears they all chose the same ones. Pilot, T/A, Loves, Wilco, and Flying-J truck stops are some of the most crowded. Part of the problem is location. If you are near a large city or close to the east or west coast chances are you’re going to run into congestion at the fuel island. [ [ NewCompanyDriver - Advice for using truck stop fuel islands ] ]

The retail stores in large truck stops offer a large selection of 12-volt DC products, such as coffee makers, TV/VCR combos, toaster ovens, and frying pans primarily targeted towards truck drivers, who often spend 26 to 27 days on the road, at a time. Likewise, such shops generally offer a wide selection of maps, road atlases, truck stop and freeway exit guides, truck accessories (such as CB radio equipment and hazmat placards), plus entertainment media such as movies, video games, music, and audio books. Increasingly, as interstate truck drivers have become a large market for satellite radio, the retail store also sells various satellite radio receivers for both XM and Sirius as well as subscriptions to those services. Kiosks run by cellular phone providers are also common.

Most long-haul tractors have sleeping berths, and to allow for comfortable sleeping many truck drivers have had to keep their diesel engines running for heating or cooling. Since a single diesel idling, let alone several, makes considerable noise and can be visibly polluting, they are often banned from such use near residential areas. Truck stops (along with public rest stops) provide the main places where Truck drivers may rest peacefully, as required by regulations. Modern innovations, such as truck heaters and auxiliary power units are increasing, and some truck stops are also providing power, air conditioning, and communications through systems like IdleAire. Most chain truck stops also have WLAN Internet access in their parking areas, though most are not free. Idle reduction — reducing the amount of fuel consumed by truck fleets during idling — is an ongoing economical and environmental effort. []

Corporatization of Truck Stops

The economics of truck stops have driven most all of the small operations that dotted the country in post-war times out of business and replaced them with large corporate chains or franchises. While truck drivers are a "captured market," since the trucks' size, and local regulations, vastly restrict where a truck driver can spend money; the truck stops' land and equipment costs, and upkeep and maintenance requirements, are large and growing, requiring it be made up by chain-volume buying and an increasing quantity of customers. Some large truck stop chains have begun to cater to a wider range of the traveling public.

In Australia, most truck stops - usually known as roadhouses, as they provide services to cars as well as trucks - are owned by, or are franchises of, oil companies such as Castrol and BP, but can include other franchises like McDonalds.

In the United states in the late 1990s, Truckstops of America (T/A) changed its name to TravelCenters of America to reflect this marketing strategy. There is no exact distinction between "truck stop" and the newer term "travel center", but some differences are size, proximity to interstate highways and major roads, number of services, accessibility to automotive and RV travelers, and a certain extra emphasis on facility appearance. Many truck stops chains such as Flying J and T/A also serve the recreational vehicle market. All the national chains have established customer loyalty programs to promote repeated patronage.


Truck stop restaurants are often recommended to non-truck drivers because of their reputation for large portions of good food. Truck drivers have their choice of places to re-fuel, and a good restaurant is an attraction.

Truck stops are often depicted in films and novels as being somewhat seedy places frequented by aggressive bikers, petty criminals, and prostitutes (e.g. the "lot lizards" in the JT LeRoy novel "Sarah"). This is in general an outdated stereotype, as most modern truck stops are generally clean and safe, becoming a "home away from home" for many truck drivers. However, it should be noted that most truck stops do reflect the social environment of the area they are in; consequently, one still occasionally finds seedy truck stops in seedy areas.

Photo Gallery

ee also

*Iowa 80 (World's largest truck stop)
*Rest area
*Road Ranger
*Greasy spoon
*TravelCenters of America
*Flying J
*Pilot Travel Centers


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • truck stop — truck ,stop noun count AMERICAN an area with a restaurant beside a major road where truck drivers can stop and have a meal, buy gas, or have their vehicle repaired …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • truck stop — n AmE a cheap place to eat on a main road, used mainly by truck drivers …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • truck stop — ☆ truck stop n. a restaurant in conjunction with a service station, located as along an interstate highway and catering especially to truck drivers …   English World dictionary

  • truck stop — truck′ stop n. a restaurant, often combined with a gas station and other facilities, located along a major highway and frequented esp. by truckdrivers • Etymology: 1960–65, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • truck stop — noun a roadside service station (and restaurant) that caters to truck drivers • Hypernyms: ↑service station * * * a gas station, usually at the side of a major highway, where truck drivers stop for fuel, and often including a restaurant, sleeping …   Useful english dictionary

  • truck stop — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms truck stop : singular truck stop plural truck stops American an area with a restaurant beside a major road where truck drivers can stop and have a meal, buy petrol, or have their vehicle repaired …   English dictionary

  • truck stop — a gas station, usually at the side of a major highway, where truck drivers stop for fuel, and often including a restaurant, sleeping and showering rooms, a store selling basic items, etc. [1960 65] * * * …   Universalium

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