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Five biggest truck stops in the world

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Providing a safe place for truck drivers to stop is big business around the world. SA Trucker lists the world’s five biggest truck stops that provide drivers with secure parking, clean ablutions and all the amenities of a shopping mall.

Asked to guess which countries have the largest truck stops in an informal survey, local drivers correctly listed America on top, but few knew that South Africa is comfortably in second place, or that South Africa’s small truckstops (some with 200 to 300 parking bays) offer services that are on par or better than that of their equivalents in Europe, Australia and especially China. 

Read what drivers experience in China and the US.

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1st place: Iowa 80: 900 bays

Operating 24 hours a day since 1964 on the eastern border of the Iowa state, Iowa 80 has grown into a village that boasts 900 parking bays for big rigs with thousands of visitors a day. Iowa 80 offers drivers the usual private showers, laundry services, workshop and truck wash, but also adds a certified automatic truck (CAT) scale, grocery shop, gift shop, barber, chiropractor and dentist, movie theatre, gym, pet wash, trucking museum and an annual free festival called the Walcott Truckers Jamboree.

Five biggest truck stops in the world Highway Junction jpg
South Africa’s most popular truckstop is also a refuge for drivers during riots on the N3 highway.

2nd place: Highway Junction: 760 bays

Rated by drivers to be the best truckstop in South Africa, Highway Junction enjoys the support of some 1300 trucks who pass through Highway Junction every day.

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Situated halfway between Gauteng and Durban in the scenic Free State town of Harrismith Highway Junction started out in 1998, offering drivers coming from Johannesburg on the N3 and Cape Town on the N5 safe parking, clean ablutions, a laundromat and home-cooked meals. 

In the 26 years since, Highway Junction has grown into a refuge for drivers, with chief executive Ben Deysel earning a reputation for providing safe parking to more than 760 trucks at Highway Junction whenever South Africa’s xenophobic protesters attack and loot trucks on the N3. 

Parking is free between 8 am and 3 pm, while overnight parking costs R172. This pays for a shower and security provided by guards who patrol the parking area with fierce dogs at night, as well as 150 additional CCTV cameras that monitor the entire site.

A driver incentive scheme, the Infinity Reward systems, rewards drivers for tanking up at the Total, Engen or BP forecourts. Trucks can be serviced at Volvo and Renault Trucks, Scania workshops, weighed on SASCO weighbridges and tyres can be fixed or replaced at a TrenTyre outlet.

Drivers can draw cash from Absa, Capitec and FNB ATMs, shop at an OK Express, or rent monthly undercover parking. For drivers who don’t have bunks in their cabins, there is a driver motel with rooms that can be booked overnight or long term. A driver’s clubhouse enables socialising and drivers can check their health with a nurse at the onsite Trucking Wellness clinic.

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3rd place: Ashford International Truckstop: 660 bays

AIT, as the Ashford International Truckstop in Kent, UK, is better known, opened in 1994 when the Channel Tunnel opened to enable trucks to drive from London to Paris. The park is surrounded by a 3,6 (12 foot) fence with motion detection LED spotlights and 62 infrared motion detection cameras with 24-hour patrols.

Drivers can reserve one of the 660 parking bays on the AIT app and when parked, have access to free Wifi, a gym, sports bar and for the many Eastern European and Middle-Eastern drivers, a currency exchange. The ablutions are relatively small, with 18 showers for men, three showers for women and one for disabled persons. The truck park has dedicated areas to change trailers, plug in points for 48 reefers, hazardous loads, a truck wash and a diesel mechanic workshop.

Five biggest truck stops in the world Maasvlakte Plaza
A Routiers restaurant seats 175 people at Maasvlakte Plaza truckstop inside Rotterdam harbour.

4th place: Maasvlakte Plaza: 569 bays 

With an information desk, Wi-Fi, sanitary facilities (showers and toilets), washing machines and dryers, lockers and a Routiers restaurant that seats 175 people, Maasvlakte Plaza inside Rotterdam harbour in the Netherlands offers European drivers a clean, modern truckstop after the dreary, dirty rest areas behind fuel stations that is the norm in Europe. 

A Shell filling station, truck wash, weighbridge and an emergency container repair service are availabe on site.

Five biggest truck stops in the world Vaal truck Inn
Vall Truck Inn boasts modern ablutions with a 2,500-litre water reservoir and heat pump that ensures hot showers at all times. 

5th place: Vaal Truck Inn (~350 bays) and Kenly 95 Petro (~350 bays). 

The number of parking bays at both Vaal Truck Inn near Villiers in the Free State, South Africa and Kenly 95 Petro in North Carolina, U.S. are not fixed because both sites have large unmarked parking areas where truckers can squeeze in more vehicles if they park considerately. 

Two other truckstops may yet move into fifth place, if Transnet finally manages to change Durban’s old airport in Prospecton to a truckstop that can handle the thousands of trucks that visit the Durban port daily. 

Another long-delayed large truckstop is the proposed Eastern Creek truckstop near Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Proposals for both these sites have, however, been strangled in red tape and conflicting interests for several years and any tape-cutting ceremonies to open large new truckstops on these sites is still far in the future.

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