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Do Semi-Trucks Have Bathrooms? Facts & FAQs

Collision of a semi truck with box trailer a passenger car on the highway road

To some people, traveling to new places and seeing the country sounds romantic, and getting paid to do it is just an extra perk! The reality is that it has many downsides that you’d expect from long-distance driving. There is traffic, inconsiderate drivers, adverse weather conditions, construction, and other road hazards. That’s saying nothing of the mental and physical challenges.

Today’s semis are a far cry from older rigs from even just a few years ago. Manufacturers build them for comfort. Unfortunately, your truck most likely won’t have a bathroom, let alone a shower. It probably won’t have a portable john, either. That’s why rest areas offer multiple amenities.

divider 7 Dimensions of a Semi-Truck

The question of whether a semi could even accommodate a bathroom rests with its size. Using the 2021 Tesla as an example, the rig measures 13 feet high by 8.5 feet wide by 20.75 feet long. The cab of the typical new semi is luxurious with all the creature comforts you’d want for long-haul driving. They contain the modern amenities of GPS and a deluxe sound system.

Let’s compare this semi with a Class A Motorhome, which comes close to the truck’s massive size. Its measurements are 11–13 feet high and 8.5 feet wide. The latter figure doesn’t include slide outs, which can tack on another 2–2.5 feet. This RV runs about 25–45 feet long. While comparable, the longer length gives this rig the extra room to add a bathroom and shower.

White bathroom paint_StevenUngermann_Unsplash
Image Credit: Steven Ungermann, Unsplash

Legal Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determines and regulates the hours of service (HOS) that a trucker may operate their vehicle. For example, an individual may only drive up to 11 hours for every 14 hours of work. Bear in mind they often work nights, holidays, and weekends. No matter when they drive, they must log their time.

The FMCSA updated its HOS on June 1, 2020. These changes tweaked breaks, rest periods, and adverse driving conditions. It also specified rules for its Sleep Berth Provision, which requires rest time away from the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 697 fatalities caused by drowsy driving in 2019.

The FMCSA surveyed truckers about the reasons they take a break. The primary cause was bathroom breaks in 67% of cases. While the federal government acknowledges the importance of rest, it doesn’t make special provisions for it. It’s likely because it can prevent drowsiness by getting up and moving around to get a trucker’s blood moving.

Practical Considerations

Everything else aside, bathrooms on semis would likely be more trouble than they’re worth. There’s the question of maintenance, plus trucks might not have the maneuverability to get to an RV dump station. Bear in mind that this service is offered by parks as a convenience to paying guests.

The same thing applies to portable facilities. Maintenance is an added burden that may not be a practical consideration for long-haul truckers. It would also put a burden on state rest areas and other truck stops to provide this service. Individuals might find rigs that have a built-in bathroom. However, the maintenance issues may negate their convenience.

divider 7 Final Thoughts

Employment in the trucking industry continues to rise by an expected 6% each year through 2030 with an equally favorable job outlook, given the supply chain issues. An experienced trucker likely won’t have any problems finding work. The work itself is demanding with long hours and time away from one’s family. While the rigs are comfortable, most don’t have a bathroom, making pit stops essential.

Featured Image Credit: Vitpho, Shutterstock


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