Bill requiring bathroom access for truck drivers introduced in U.S. House

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022:

Truck driver restroom access bill introduced in House

Legislation introduced 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 introduced in Houlahan's home state stalled this summer. North of the border in Ontario, Canada, the government passed legislation late last year requiring restroom access at businesses for delivery drivers.

“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 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."

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

Women in Trucking 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, the latter an issue that was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, when a dearth of facilities became front-page news around the nation. A lack of reliable access to a restroom, Houlahan said, is a barrier to entry for a labor force 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, 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.

[Related: 'The more essential I'm gettin', the stinkier I get' ... another week gone by]

USPS contractor charged, arrested for wreck that killed five

A Colorado truck driver involved in a crash that killed a family of five this past summer was arrested and charged with numerous felonies, including vehicular homicide.

The Weld County, Colorado, district attorney’s office announced last week that 26-year-old Jesus Puebla was charged with five felony counts of vehicular homicide following a June 13 collision on I-25 that killed a family traveling home to Wyoming in a 2015 Ford Edge.

Neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected to have to played a role in the four-vehicle pile-up that shut down northbound traffic for hours near milemarker 243, about 30 miles north of Denver. Overdrive sister publication CCJ reached out to Colorado State Patrol see if distracted driving, including phone use, may have been a factor.

“Inattentive driving is being considered as the primary causal factor,” Trooper Josh K. Lewis told CCJ. “However, I do not have information related to phone [use].”

According to the Colorado State Patrol, Puebla was driving a 1999 Kenworth box truck northbound in the left lane on I-25 when traffic ahead of him slowed down around 1:30 p.m. Instead of reducing his speed, Puebla struck the Ford Edge and sent it into the center median where investigators believe he struck the SUV a second time before crashing into the median cable rail, where the truck came to a stop.

Denver7.com reported that court documents indicate that Puebla was traveling 76 mph when he struck the car. All five occupants of the SUV, which included a three-month-old baby, were pronounced dead on scene. Puebla was not injured.

A driver in a 2013 Ford Focus struck in the accident was taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries. Occupants in a 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander also damaged by the collision were not injured.

At the time of the accident, Lewis said Puebla was driving for Caminantes Trucking. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Caminantes Trucking is a 46-truck fleet based in Long Beach, California, contracted with the U.S. Postal Service.

In the past 24 months, Caminantes has undergone 223 vehicle inspections with an out of service rate of 27.8%. The national average for OOS fleet violations during that same time is 21.9%. Also during the past two years, Caminantes underwent 327 driver inspections resulting in an OOS driver violation rate of 5.8%, which beats the national average of 6.47%.

In addition to the five vehicular homicide charges, Puebla also faces charges of vehicular assault, careless driving, reckless driving, a commercial vehicle safety violation and driving without a commercial driver's license. A court date has not yet been set. Lewis did not provide details on Puebla’s commercial vehicle safety violation. Caminantes Trucking has not yet responded to attempted contacts. 

Mid-America Trucking Show registration now open

Free online registration is now open for the 2023 Mid-America Trucking Show, which will be held March 30 through April 1 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville.

The 2023 show will be the 51st year of the event.

MATS features a plethora of happenings for attendees, including:

  • 1 million square feet of exhibit space filled with vendors and trucks
  • Numerous educational and informative programs and demonstrations
  • Live musical entertainment
  • PKY Truck Championship show
  • Truck parking community
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