In Portable Toilet 2, we cover reasons why we think that every regional and long-haul truck driver should consider having a Porta Potti® or other similar device in his/her truck.
Please note that you will need to verify that your trucking company allows you to have such a unit in your truck.
You don't want to risk losing your job by violating company policy.
A May 4, 2012 article opened this way: "A major section of Interstate 70 was shut down for nearly eight hours after a tanker truck fire Thursday night." (1)
Things like this happen and inevitably, folks are inconvenienced.
Delays are often caused by accidents, congestion (such as at rush hour), road construction and bad weather.
Even though a facility at which you planned to stop may be just a little way beyond the bottleneck, you may not be able to get to it within a reasonable period of time.
Who among us in the trucking industry has not been delayed by problems of this kind?
Portable toilet 2 help: You don't need to sweat trying to "find" a bathroom when you have one with you.
To save money in their budgets, some states have closed rest areas or service areas where restroom facilities have typically been available in the past.
Even state Welcome Centers have not been spared the axe.
Signs like the one shown at left are all too common sights to long haul truckers.
Closing off the parking is bad enough, but for truckers who depend on these facilities to use the restroom, it can present some major challenges.
An article in The Wall Street Journal states:
... There are about 2,500 rest areas along the interstates. State governments build and maintain them. Most have remained steadfastly utilitarian: a parking lot, a simple building with toilets, a few picnic benches, and maybe some vending machines. Because many of the interstates bypassed cities and towns, travelers often had no other options when they needed to pull off the road.
A growing number of states have come to see rest areas as obsolete. Rather than spend the money on maintenance and repairs, states began closing them.
So you can't count on these being available or having a spot left for you to park in. The best plan, in our opinion, is to take a portable toilet with you.
Some places just aren't truck-friendly, no matter how big the lot, no matter what sorts of other large vehicles (like RVs pulling cars or buses) are already there, no matter what.
Even some places that have been designated for trucks -- like weigh stations -- may not allow trucks to park there overnight. Life's not fair. Get used to it.
Wal-Marts may restrict truck parking or forbid big trucks from their lots altogether. The one in Ephrata, Pennsylvania banished big trucks from their lots. According to the article,
"McKim said drivers who violate Wal-Mart's 'No parking' policy don't simply receive a parking ticket, but instead receive a traffic citation for disobeying the posted signs under state law."
So, truckers can't use the restroom in those stores. Time for portable toilet 2.
Assuming one is "fortunate" enough to get a parking spot in a rest area, some of them have restrooms that have either been closed or have limited hours of availability.
That is, unless you have your portable toilet with you.
What about locations where there simply aren't enough toilets to meet demand?
One article described "toilet trauma for truckers" this way:
... Truck drivers have personally borne the brunt of the latest delays. Security regulations forbid drivers from leaving the terminal until their trucks are loaded or offloaded, and during that time they have to share one portable toilet among up to 300 drivers.
Sean Pillay, owner of trucking company Pilsons Transport, said for the past three weeks drivers had been stuck in the terminal for up to 12 hours. "There can be up to 300 drivers in there, and with only one toilet, there ends up being urine everywhere," he said. ...(2)
Now if you drive a daycab to a port, you may not have room for a portable toilet in your truck, but those with a sleeper berth most likely do. Save yourself the pain of having to "wait your turn" in high-demand cases like this.
Land Line Magazine reported in September 2010:
"A simple request to use the bathroom at a food packaging plant recently led to one trucker being asked to drop his trailer at the dock - and leave the premises."
So don't count on being able to use the restroom at a shipper's or receiver's facility.
Some customers are very friendly and accommodating.
Others are not.
In fact, even some retail stores where you may want to shop don't allow truck parking (or RV parking, for that matter!);.
Be watching for signs like the one shown here and don't risk
Portable toilet 2 help: It's best to carry yours with you.
Perhaps you've had it happen to you.
You ate a meal (whether in your truck or out) and it really does a number on your digestive system.
Regardless of what the dish was, we call this situation "having a bad batch of chili con carne."
The gastric upset turns out so bad that the next thing you know, you have to quickly seek out a restroom.
You could be just about anywhere when it hits.
One night, Vicki had a situation like that when Mike was asleep in the bunk.
She was driving east on I-80 through Nebraska when it hit.
She squirmed around in the driver's seat awhile.
She strongly considered pulling over on the shoulder of an off-ramp to use the bathroom.
Just as she thought things were settling down inside her abdomen, she passed the exit.
That was a big mistake.
She wriggled and writhed until she managed to park on the shoulder of the very next exit.
She barely made it back to the portable toilet behind the curtain.
Vicki said she felt like she "exploded" once she sat down.
But she was relieved of the excrement and gas.
She could not have done "her business" outdoors and there wasn't a gas station or truck stop for miles.
Portable toilet 2 help: Without one in our truck, the options were not at all pretty.
More portable toilet 2 help: We've also both experienced sickness in the other direction in a truck, too.
Either some food item just didn't agree with us or a whopper of a migraine settled in.
In either case, our portable toilet provided the perfect place into which to vomit.
It sounds disgusting, but it is a fact of life. Imagine doing that in a public restroom. Not!
If you've ever seen a truck parked on the side of the road and a male trucker standing by his drive axles on the non-road side for a few seconds, it is a pretty good guess that he is relieving himself of urine. You know for sure he didn't have (or didn't use) a portable toilet.
A search on the phrase "urinating in public ticket" will reveal some pretty scary things. The charge, the ticket, the cost, the lasting consequence of a criminal record are all possibilities. Let's just say that this is not an option any cost-conscious trucker wants to explore.
Given that, your choice is limited to containing your waste. Of course, we prefer to contain in-truck bodily fluids in a portable toilet. But what about truckers who don't have one?
What are realistic alternatives to containing bodily waste in your truck apart from using a portable toilet?
It has to be stored in something.
Truckers have been really creative, using any kind of bottle available.
Unfortunately, the problem comes in with disposing of the "waste bottle."
Washington State used to defined urine as a biological hazard. Other states may have a similar definition.(3)
Urine and feces need to be disposed of properly, not as shown in this photo which shows a discarded plastic bottle filled with urine -- otherwise known as a "trucker bomb" -- sitting in a truck stop parking lot.
Who did the discarder think was going to clean up after him? His mommy?
You're not in diapers any longer, mister. Clean up after yourself.
Not only is throwing out this kind of "trash" a health hazard but it is evidence of laziness. (There were trash cans nearby.)
An MSNBC article stated:
Roadside litter comes in all shapes and sizes - from dirty diapers to syringes - but there's one category that out-grosses the rest: trucker bombs ... plastic jugs full of urine tossed by truckers, and even non-truckers, who refuse to make a proper potty stop to relieve themselves.
Consider the price tag of disposing of your waste this way instead of a portable toilet.
According to the same article:
Hoping to break truckers of the dirty habit, Washington state lawmakers created a "dangerous litter" category in 2002 and increased fines to $1,025 from $95 for general litter. ... Several other states have taken similar steps to stop truckers from dumping containers of urine. Wyoming this year increased the maximum penalty for littering bodily fluid to nine months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The maximum penalty for other litter is six months in jail and a $750 fine.
Portable toilet 2 help: Save yourself the expense. Get a unit and use it.
This should be the most obvious of all reasons why it's a good idea to have a portable toilet in your truck: you just have to use the restroom.
Your body was designed for ingestion, digestion and excretion.
There are no such things as two-headed llamas.
You can't hold in waste without expecting problems.
We read a March 2012 article that opened this way(4):
An $8.8 billion Australian transportation corporation has escalated its attack on its Latino-American workers by firing a mother of three for stopping to use a McDonald's restroom during her delivery route.
There was a backlash from dozens of her male co-workers against this:
"Toll Group maintains an unreasonably restrictive work policy prohibiting employees from stopping -- even to use a restroom -- when delivering a load."
We agree with them that this kind of restriction is unreasonable.
However, it must be pointed out that it wouldn't have mattered if the toilet had been in her truck because the issue was stopping the truck at all.
As a professional truck driver, your restroom facilities will always be close at hand when you have a toilet in your truck.
You don't have to worry if you're going to "make it" to the truck stop without having a nasty and embarrassing accident along the way.
Note: Drivers of smaller trucks and day cabs who make local deliveries may or may not be able to use the restroom at their customers' locations.
It's always a good idea to ask first.
Portable toilet 2 help: Pay attention to your body when it's trying to tell you something.
KCRG Channel 9 (ABC) reported on May 30, 2010 that a Wisconsin truck driver "stopped to use the rest stop restroom" along I-80 in Iowa and found a man who had been shot and killed there. The murder victim was a part-time maintenance worker at the rest stop.(5)
The article does not provide a motive for the slaying or say whether or not the perpetrator knew the victim.
It is safe to say, however, that if the perpetrator had a weapon that could kill one person, he could have killed others -- including the truck driver.
We note on our Safe Parking page two truckers who were killed at rest stops, one in 2004 and one in 2007.
Having a portable toilet in one's truck does not prevent someone from potentially being murdered.
However, unless one is dumping the waste holding tank or recharging the fresh water tank, the user can usually stay inside his truck during a restroom break, thereby reducing the need to draw attention to himself.
The image shown here of a soldier with shield and sword is meant to depict someone who is attentive to the dangers around him/her and takes proper precautions.
Portable toilet 2 help: Arrange to dump your waste holding tank in secured areas only, such as your trucking company's terminal(s) or a secure truck stop, even if it isn't quite as full as you would like it to be. That will reduce your need to get out of your truck in unsecured places. Plan ahead.
An added benefit of staying in the truck during a restroom break is that the risk of a truck-jacking is reduced.
Being inside the vehicle the whole time provides "on-site security."
Sometimes just having someone around (like a security guard) is enough to deter a potential crime.
Keep your eyes and ears open for potential trouble, even when you're inside your truck.
Portable toilet 2 help: If a trucking company is hesitant to allow you to have one of these devices in your truck, point out how the positives outweigh the negatives -- especially if you pick up and deliver freight in a high risk area.
We list here a product available through Amazon.com, with which we have an affiliate relationship.
We strongly recommend buying and using a Thetford Porta Potti® as the collection
point in a truck for
- solid and liquid waste when going to the bathroom;
- used rinse water when brushing teeth and preserving personal hygiene; and
- used wash and rinse water when cleaning dishes after cooking food and recipes in one's truck.
In our opinion, a portable toilet is one of two essential things on a packing list that Vicki must have in any truck that she rides in.
The particular model shown here from Amazon.com (with which we have an affiliate relationship) has these features:
- 5.5-gallon holding tank which allows maximum uses before emptying (although when full it can be very heavy);
- Level indicator to tell when it's time to empty (although we don't wait for it to tell us -- users can see down into the waste holding tank to know when it's time to dump the contents);
- A piston pump (instead of the previous units' bellows, which had a tendency to leak) to pump fresh water into the bowl to "flush" down waste; and
- A lid latch (which we removed because it was more of a headache than a help to us).
While we understand that some truckers have very poor personal hygiene habits, we feel that it is cruel for trucking companies to forbid drivers who keep their portable toilets clean from having one in their trucks.
After all, employees within trucking companies have restrooms in their workplaces, don't they?Notice in the picture here how clean the waste holding tank is from our portable toilet that Mike is carrying on his way to a public restroom to dump the contents.
Money saving tip: It is harmful to a person's body -- that is, it is unhealthy -- to have to keep solid or liquid waste inside. When "nature calls," you have to answer the door. Save yourself the physical agony of trying to "hold it in."
If possible, get yourself a new portable toilet and keep it clean. Use a decent grade of toilet tissue for wiping yourself. (Specially formulated toilet paper may not be necessary; we've never found it to be.) If necessary for extra cleaning, use baby wipes, but wrap them up and throw them away (don't throw them down either your portable toilet or the toilet where you'll dump the contents of your toilet's waste holding tank).
Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for a chemical to break down the waste. Of course, you will want to make sure that you use an appropriate amount of water when you "flush" your unit so that the waste holding tank can be emptied easily.
Never pour boiling water or hot grease from cooking into your unit. Always wait until those liquids cool or dispose of them in an an otherwise acceptable manner.
Always dispose of your bodily waste properly to avoid a ticket or fine.
Be aware that some states (such as Georgia in the USA) expressly prohibit parking on the shoulders of interstate on- and off-ramps. If you're caught parking there, you could receive a ticket or fine.
be careful about pulling over and parking on the shoulder of a road.
Every time you do this, you run the risk of being hit or causing an
accident. Parking in these places should be used for vehicle breakdowns
or emergencies only. To do otherwise could invite a ticket or fine,
1. http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/major-section-i-70-shut-down-hours-after-tanker-tr/nNWCM/ (no longer online)
2. https://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/news/toilet-trauma-for-truckers-as-terminal-chaos-continues-1124487 (no longer online)
3. http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/files/HazChemSurvey.pdf (no longer online)
condemned-after-firing-a-female-driver-for-making-emergency-pit-stop (no longer online)
5. http://www.kcrg.com/news/local/95213609.html (no longer online)