Truckers hope to finally relieve themselves…from the worries of being denied restroom access at commercial facilities.
Introduced last Thursday by House representatives across the aisle, Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania), the bipartisan bill, simply known as the Trucker Bathroom Access Act, would require retailers, warehouses, and other businesses to allow truckers access to their restrooms while picking up or delivering a load. The proposed law would also apply to port operators and terminals and would allow drayage drivers similar privileges.
In other words, when a trucker is conducting business at a respective facility, they cannot be denied doing their business at that facility.
Truckers being denied restroom access is common
While other challenges, like a driver shortage and equipment deficits, have grabbed the attention of people outside of the industry, restroom access, or lack thereof, has been at the top of the list for drivers and driver advocacy groups.
On the outside looking in, many people probably think: Who’s callous enough to deny these poor souls the need to relieve themselves?
Well, prominent trucking group OOIDA asserts facility operators usually hide behind liability reasons and an (unproven) history of drivers disrespecting their restrooms.
Unproven in the sense that the accusation is arbitrary. Truckers, like any other group of people, can have disrespectful people associated with them. However, the claim that all drivers disrespect facilities is pinning the blame on behavior anyone can be responsible for.
While some operators have allowed restroom access, others who don’t will often have port-a-potties instead. Both truckers and advocacy groups will agree that these are not reasonable accommodations as no plumbing, temperature control, or regular maintenance exists.
The bill is the first of its kind
In any case, this introduced legislation is the first time there’s been any proposal to address this challenge. It has always been up to discretion of private businesses to decide whether truckers can use their restrooms.
Even the almighty entity of OSHA (federal agency that regulates the workplace) cannot enforce these businesses to provide amenities for truckers since they are not responsible for their employment.
However, this can all change if the bill moves forward.
In its language, facilities required to follow suit with the new law include “a place of business open to the general public for the sale of goods or services” and “a shipper, receiver, manufacturer, warehouse, distribution center, or any other business entity that is receiving or sending goods by commercial motor vehicle”.
While the above will cover the greater extent of stops truckers will make throughout a journey, the bill does not include rail facilities, gas stations, or restaurants if these businesses designate their restrooms as employee-only.
Drayage drivers are included
A separate section of the bill outlines restroom access requirements at seaports for drayage truckers. It states that marine terminal operators and port authorities provide access to existing restrooms while drayage drivers are on port property, additional restrooms (if needed) at heavily trafficked areas, and a place for drayage drivers to park their rigs while relieving themselves.
The final provision is the most intriguing. Another outspoken issue for truckers has been parking access. If the bill goes on to pass with this bit included, it may be tricky to find space for designated parking for restrooms on port grounds. Typically, ports are constricted with all their activity so it’d be interesting to see how this can be accommodated.
Representative Houlahan commented that the Trucker Bathroom Access Act “will give all truckers, and female drivers in particular, the confidence of having access to a restroom”.
While operators aren’t in the wrong for liability concerns—it is after all their facilities—Houlahan’s comments simply reveal this to be a concern for how long truckers have gone without being guaranteed access to a basic amenity.
How do you feel about America’s knights of the road and deliverers of freight being told to just hold it?
Contact one of our team members if you have any questions regarding this topic or any others in domestic logistics.
This is an everchanging industry. Stay current on rail and trucking developments with our weekly Road Map Newsletter.