Legislation introduced Wednesday by Representatives Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania) would require shippers and receivers to grant truck drivers access to the facility’s restrooms. Nehls is also a member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

A handful of states have introduced, and some passed, similar legislation. A bill in introduced in Houlahan’s home state stalled this summer. 

“We’ve heard from countless drivers who have been forced to ‘hold it’ because they were not allowed to access the bathroom when they were picking up or delivering freight,” said Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) President and CEO Todd Spencer, whose organization, along with the Women In Trucking Association, partnered on the legislation. “The men and women of America’s trucking industry keep our supply chain moving and it’s only reasonable that their most basic of needs be accommodated while they are on the job.”

Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that employers provide all workers with sanitary and immediately-available toilet facilities (restrooms), but lacks the authority to extend coverage to non-employees that come to the facility like customers and truck drivers. 

Women In Trucking Association President and CEO Ellen Voie noted that as more women enter the trucking industry, the need for restroom access increases while access to facilities has decreased. A lack of reliable access to a restroom, Houlahan said, is a barrier to entry for a laborforce the transportation industry is working hard to recruit: women. 

“Time and again, we’ve seen that when we include more women in our workforce, our economy prospers—that’s true for the trucking industry, too,” she said, “but restricted access to bathrooms is putting that progress in jeopardy.”

The legislation, likely to be reintroduced next year of not passed in the remaining days of 2022, would require retailers, warehouses and other businesses to give drivers access to bathroom facilities when they are picking up cargo or making deliveries. It does not require businesses to construct new restrooms. It only requires that if a business has a restroom available to their customers or employees, truck drivers should have the same access. It also requires operators of ports and terminals to provide bathroom access to drayage drivers.