Pennsylvania Legislator Introduces Bathroom Access Bill for Drivers
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Inspired by Washington state’s successful legislation this year giving truckers greater access to bathroom facilities, a Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced a bill in that state’s General Assembly to do the same.
“It’s a huge issue — not just in Pennsylvania, but nationally — that these drivers are not permitted to use restrooms in some facilities where they are picking up and dropping off,” Rep. Jason Silvis (R) said. “That’s just not American in any way, shape or form.”
Silvis has been in office for 16 months, but previously made his living behind the wheel — in Hollywood. As a stuntman who also held a commercial driver license, Silvis carved out a niche.
“In order to drive larger trucks in and on movies you needed to have your CDL, because you’re driving in live traffic sometimes,” he said. “I was one of the few that actually had a CDL, so I was called upon quite a bit for some driving.”
Silvis was among the recipients of a Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance by a stunt ensemble in the 2007 movie “I Am Legend.”
Today, Silvis said he wants his contacts in trucking to know that he supports them, and is willing to help resolve issues they face.
“Without them, we wouldn’t have a lot of the things we have,” he said of truck drivers. “I think they should be treated with respect and be able to use a restroom if they need it. To me this is common sense.”
On March 29, Silvis introduced the Truck Driver Restroom Access Act, HB 2465. Co-sponsored by Rep. David Delloso (D) and fellow Republicans Abby Major, Greg Rothman and Brian Smith, the bill would require retail establishments, shippers, receivers and port terminals to provide truck drivers with access to restrooms while delivering or picking up goods during regular business hours. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation Committee.
Four days prior to the bill’s introduction, Silvis issued a memorandum called “Restroom Facilities for Truck Drivers While Picking Up or Dropping Off A Shipment” to all members of the state’s House of Representatives seeking support for the measure.
“Allowing these drivers access to businesses’ facilities will prevent them from having to pull over on the highway, creating unsafe conditions for both themselves and other motorists,” the letter stated.
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The state Department of Health would enforce a $300 fine for violations of the proposed law.
Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association CEO Rebecca Oyler said her group supports the bill, as it raises awareness of an issue truckers confront daily, and one that she said could be contributing to the driver shortage.
“Getting more people into the industry is going to require making changes to make the job a little easier for drivers on the road,” she said, adding she hopes people “focus on common courtesy and human decency for our drivers out there.” She said one driver reported being refused restroom access after waiting two hours to unload. After being directed to a store one mile away, the driver returned and was instructed to return to the end of the line.
Silvis decided to sponsor legislation after reading about a measure in Washington, HB 1706, which recently passed. Starting June 9, truckers there will have increased restroom access at ports. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law March 30.
“It’s a step in the right direction for truckers — although restrooms are provided at the ports, they are not always accessible,” said Sheri Call, president and CEO of Washington Trucking Associations. “I think even more important, the national attention on this issue has created an opportunity in Pennsylvania to run the bill with amendments that didn’t get into our bill.”
Washington’s new law requires terminal operators to provide a sufficient number of restrooms for drayage drivers in areas they typically access; specifically, inside the gate and truck queuing lots. Restrooms may include fixed bathrooms with flush toilets or portable chemical toilets, and at least one must be suitable for and dedicated to expressing breast milk.
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Also, drivers will be able to leave their vehicles at reasonable times and locations to go into restrooms. The state Department of Health may issue violations for noncompliance.
“This bill creates some oversight to address access going forward,” Call said. “The overarching thought was to get this in place and use it as a basis to perfect it in 2023. We missed the boat by not including shippers and receivers, so there is a Phase 2 coming.”
She added drivers are “thrilled to have received attention concerning their basic issues.”