How long could you hold on for?

That's the question two Horowhenua truck drivers were asking late last week when they joined a chorus of drivers in New Zealand wanting access to a toilet during the course of their working day.

When the country went into Covid-19 lockdown last week, most public toilets were locked. Service station toilet facilities were shut, severely limiting the options for truckies needing to spend a penny.

Pressure was mounting for a commonsense solution to be found.

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But their cries for help were heard, and over the weekend truck drivers found some relief as local authorities began unlocking public loos.

Levin truck driver Tim Taylor said it was important that all truck drivers were able to maintain their decency while at work, and called for service stations to join the conversation, too.

Taylor said many of the truck driving fraternity were women. While it might be acceptable for men to stop and discretely urinate behind a tree, it was grossly unfair to expect women to do the same.

"It's actually not right that anybody should be expected to hold on. There are older guys that might have prostate problems," he said.

Last week Taylor said there was nowhere that he knew between Palmerston North and Wellington that had a toilet stop for drivers, with public toilets being locked also, and was relieved that some were now being opened.

Taylor said the next step would be to see if service stations could grant toilet access to essential workers. The Government has requested that service stations do the same.

But at this stage it was a request, not a mandate.

Taylor said service stations could introduce a sanitary regime, where anyone using the facilities could disinfect it when they left.

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The next person could then disinfect the facility on arrival, and again when they left. Keys to the facilities could be disinfected the same way.

Levin-based truck driver Charlie Potter said it made sense to have service stations open their toilet facilities to truck drivers, as they were well-lit at night and there was plenty of safe and accessible parking.

He is relieved public toilets are opening, as nobody should be expected to hold on until they got home, or to go to the toilet on cue, he said.

"I limit myself to two coffees, one before I leave at 3am, but my body doesn't want to go at 3am," he said.

Meanwhile, Taylor said it was dangerous to expect night drivers to stop in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.

He said essential workers and the elderly should also be able to skip queues at supermarkets, too.