Evolution of Highway Truck Stops

Highway truck stops have come a long way since their debut in the 1940s. When they were first implemented, they were simply a place for trucks to refill their gas tanks before heading back onto the road. The trucking industry has experienced tremendous growth since the 1940s. The changing needs of the trucking industry are reflected in the 21st century truck stop. In comparison to these original stops, today’s truck stop is highly evolved. Some even include special features and luxury amenities that rival a spa or resort.

Trucking Industry Growth

Upon examining the incredible growth of the trucking industry in the past decades, the specialized nature of today’s truck stops comes as no surprise. According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), trucks transport roughly 70 percent of all freight in the United States each year. Trucks are the sole delivery source for more than 80 percent of America’s communities. The success of the trucking industry means that there are many trucks delivering many goods around the country, and that means there are many truckers who are spending most of their lives on the road.

Special Amenities

A wide selection of food is one of the staples of today’s truck stop. Patrons can often choose from several types of food, from snacks to full meals. A number of truck stops also feature brand-name restaurants. Today’s truck stop may also feature amenities like showers, Internet kiosks, and wireless access. Truck stops are evolving away from the quick stop-and-go image they were built on. Instead, these facilities are encouraging drivers to enjoy a home away from home.

Some truck stops even feature special activities and amenities, such as:

  • Rooms for overnight stay
  • Gyms and fitness classes
  • Jacuzzis
  • Hair salons and spas
  • Movie theaters
  • Bowling alleys
  • Health checkups
  • Chiropractic services

Servicing the Public

When truck stops were originally developed, they were solely intended to service truck drivers. However, with the evolution of the truck stop has come an evolution in the type of patrons who come and go. More and more of the general traveling public have begun to frequent truck stops to take advantage of the broad food selections and special amenities. In order to support the image of being open to the public, many truck stops have been coined as “travel plazas” or “travel centers.” Truck stops have also begun to boast “family friendly” features to encourage families to take a break during road trips and other travels.