Trucker bathroom-access bill is back | Diesel continues slide, rates maintain

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, June 7, 2023:

House reps reintroduce bathroom-access bill

Legislation that would require shippers and receivers across the U.S. to give truck drivers access to bathrooms at their facilities has been reintroduced in Congress.     

Reps. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania) reintroduced the Trucker Bathroom Access Act on Tuesday, which had first been proposed very late in the last session.

The bill would not require businesses to construct new restrooms, but it would mandate that truckers have the same access if a business has a bathroom available to their customers or employees.

“I am proud to reintroduce legislation that supports our nation’s truckers,” Nehls said. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilities across the country have shut down their bathrooms, which have caused essential employees, like our truckers, not to have access to use the restroom at work. Truckers are this nation’s backbone, and we owe them for the tireless contributions they continue to make to keep our country moving.”

The bill has the support of the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA), Women in Trucking (WIT), and the American Trucking Association (ATA), among others.

“Over 70% of America’s freight is exclusively carried by trucks, yet every single day men and women truck drivers are forced to ‘hold it’ because they aren’t allowed access to the restroom when picking up or delivering freight,” said Todd Spencer, President and CEO of OOIDA. “OOIDA and our 150,000 members thank Representatives Nehls and Houlahan for showing tremendous leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with them and our coalition partners to get this commonsense, bipartisan legislation signed into law.”

Recently, the state of Washington passed a new law requiring the same thing -- truck drivers must be allowed to use an existing bathroom facility located either on the premises of or operated by a shipper or receiver if the restroom is intended to be used by their employees or customers.

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[Related: Washington to require bathroom access for truckers]

Diesel prices down across the U.S.

Another week, another decrease for diesel prices across the country.

The Energy Information Administration reported this week that the national average for a gallon of on-highway diesel is $3.80 -- its lowest average since the week ending Jan. 24, 2022, when diesel averaged $3.78 a gallon. Spot market rates on average across segments ticked down slightly, though in most segments remained above levels prior to the Roadcheck inspection blitz week of May 15. 

During the week ending June 5, diesel fell in all regions across the country, with the most significant increase being seen in the West Coast less California region, where prices fell by 9.1 cents, followed by the Gulf Coast, which saw an 8.6-cent decline.

The nation’s most expensive diesel can be found in California at $4.77 per gallon, followed by the West Coast less California region at $4.21 per gallon.

The cheapest diesel is in the Gulf Coast region at $3.47 per gallon, followed by the Lower Atlantic region at $3.70 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to EIA, are:

  • New England -- $4.12
  • Central Atlantic -- $4.16
  • Midwest -- $3.73
  • Rocky Mountain -- $4.04

Spot rates all-in, with the cost of fuel reflected in negotiations between carriers and brokers, have in some ways tracked with the average cost of diesel nationally this year, with some exceptions (flatbed rates, notably, have been quite stable). As diesel's fallen throughout this year thus far, so have van and reefer rates. Recent gains for the box segments have provided a counter-trend, too, though, as diesel continued to decline.

ProMiles’ diesel averages during this most recent week reflected declines in the EIA numbers -- with prices falling  by 4.5 cents to $3.92 per gallon.

According to the ProMiles Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $5.02per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Gulf Coast region at $3.49.

[Related: The work-life balancing act: With rates down, focus on family, customer relationships to tip the scales]

Car-haul platform/broker Acertus adding load recommendations

Acertus, an automotive transport broker that calls itself a "logistics-as-a-service platform," announced the release of AI-powered load recommendations. This latest enhancement to its system aims to help carriers find freight quickly, reduce downtime and continue earning.

Powered by "machine learning models," the company's load board delivers personalized freight recommendations as well as location-based "back haul" and "next haul" load suggestions to drive efficiency and potentially reduce the necessity of manual searches.

[Related: Freight-specific TMS: Auto-transport-focused back-office management for fleets any size 

Said Acertus CEO Trent Broberg, “Our new platform release unlocks unprecedented efficiency by addressing critical pain points in the freight process. By automatically delivering personalized load recommendations, our carriers get an enhanced experience that improves overall service quality and client satisfaction.”

This feature is available to all existing and prospective carriers via Acertus' proprietary MetroLoads board. The company noted it will continue to expand AI into other products and uses, including pricing optimization. 

[Related: Volatile year shows growing pains for in-app pricing, value of negotiation]

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