Long drives across different towns and states are tiring though enjoyable and necessary. Driving long distances may make you tired after some time, and you may even doze off without knowing it. In fact, doctors say that our brain without sleep may be as lethargic as driving under the influence of alcohol.
This is when you can take a break from driving and rest for a few hours in a motel. This is not a feasible option if you are strapped for money or too tired to drive to the next motel. The next best option is to park the vehicle safely at a rest stop and sleep for some time instead of forcing yourself to keep awake and drive on.
Sleeping In A Vehicle Is Alright And Legal
Yes, sleeping inside your car is legal in most rest-places and truck places, especially where overnight parking is allowed. The place may sound like only trucks stop there, but with a gas station, snacks, restrooms, and parking spaces, these stops can take a long-required break from driving. Car drivers use these restrooms as they may also have paid shower rooms and other facilities.
Most states in the US allow overnight parking at these rest stops, but some places may have time limits so that every driver can get a chance to rest and drive on. This bar on time may be from 3 hours to ten hours. So that is one thing you must find out before choosing a parking space.
Take Care Of Yourself
Truck stops are alright for seasoned rivers as they know the pros and cons of stopping over. Even with a smaller vehicle or a first-timer, you must take certain precautions to ensure your safety while you take a break.
● Share your location with your family or friends as you will be away from any city or town and may be alone in the car. They must be aware of your plan to stay overnight or even for a few hours at the stop before you start driving again. Inform them again when you leave your pitstop.
● Plan the route before starting the trip and decide on a rest stop on the way. Even if you choose one without much information, try to choose one with more surveillance cameras and park close to one of those. It will discourage anyone from attacking your car if they realize that they may be watched or recorded.
● Switch off the engine/ ignition and apply emergency brakes to prevent accidental rolling off. A Stationary car with a running engine will put you at the risk of suffocation from carbon monoxide.
● Park your vehicle in an area that has lots of movement of people and bright lights. It may be difficult to sleep, but you can use an eye patch and relax as this will deter anyone from stealing. People can easily come and help each other in a crowd.
● Being aware of your surroundings and being vigilant is important anywhere, especially at a rest stop amongst unknown people. If you are not comfortable with the crowd or the place’s ambiance, then trust your instinct and move to the next stop if possible.
● Lock the car doors to keep yourself and your belongings. This will prevent anyone from barging into the vehicle and becoming your little fortress.
● Keep all your belongings safely, including wallet, jewelry, mobile, cards, documents, etc. This should not attract anyone to your car or you.
● You can also keep some defensive tools or devices with you all the time. This could be pepper spray or a stun gun. This is even more critical when driving alone at night or having small kids with you. Keep it handy and use it in case of emergency before alerting the public.
● Covering the windows is another important aspect. You can use blinds or clothes to cover the glasses so that no one would know the number and gender of the people in the car. This will also provide you privacy while you sleep and recover your energy.
● Try to use the shower and restrooms when people are still milling around. It is advisable not to leave the car in the middle of the night to visit the restroom. Also, stock up on snacks and water for those hunger pangs from the small stores at the stop. Please do not leave the safety of your car once it is quiet and calm and everyone is sleeping or cannot hear you.
Important Points For Drivers –
Different states will have rules about the duration of your stay that you must follow at the rest stops. It could again be different for different vehicles, trucks, RVs, cars, etc. follow the regulations to stay safe and prevent unnecessary payment of fines.
These are not camping sites, and you cannot put up barbeques or tents. So do not leave the car with all these things even if you have the necessary equipment as you were already on your way to a camp.
Check for signages that mention what is allowed in each rest stop and what is not tolerated. Ask any gas station or consult google maps to find a good rest stop. Remember that you will be in an open area and vulnerable amongst strangers. Your safety must be at the top of your list before other facilities.
You can sleep at any rest stop or truck stop if you are too tired and sleepy due to long driving hours. Different states in the US also allow this practice, albeit for different periods and parking hours for different types of vehicles. Plan beforehand so that you choose the right stops for your rest.
Park at a rest stop and understand the geography before settling in for the night, the entry, exit, and the 24-hour stores, cameras, restrooms, other drivers or parking spots, etc. Even if you feel uncomfortable, move on to the next stop. If you feel safe, stay on and relax to be safe on the road after a few hours of sleep.