WASHINGTON — Both the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations during a news conference March 16 reinforced their support for “Jason’s Law” to address the national shortage of safe parking for professional truckers.
The law was named after trucker Jason Rivenburg, who was shot to death one year during a robbery at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.
He parked there, waiting to deliver a load of milk, because of a lack of adequate parking for commercial motor vehicles.
The robber to away with $7.
The news conference was held by Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Jason’s wife, Hope.
Rivenburg lived in Tonko’s district.
The two bills tagged Jason’s Law, HR2156 and S971, would create a grant program to expand truck parking and make improvements to existing rest areas.
“When long-haul drivers are unable to find a safe place to park, they are forced to either violate hours-of-service regulations or park their truck in illegal or unsafe locations,”OOIDA Associate Director of Government Affairs Melissa Theriault Rohan, said at the news conference. “This presents a safety risk not only to the driver, but to the rest of the motoring public as well. On behalf of the people who make sacrifices in their jobs by being away from their families for days and weeks at a time, we are thankful to Congressmen Tonko and Paulsen. Their leadership on this issue has been an inspiration and we look forward to getting more support from other members of Congress.”
“Professional truck drivers must have access to safe, legal parking to get the rest they need to safely deliver America’s freight,” Dave Osiecki, ATA senior vice president said. “Drivers want to comply with the federal Hours-of-Service regulations and they want to get off the road when they get tired. Without readily available safety rest areas, professional truck drivers often have to decide whether to keep driving to find a safe parking place, or pull off the road onto a shoulder or ramp, putting themselves and other motorists at risk. Professional drivers should not be put in this ‘no-win’ situation.
“We’re grateful to Congressmen Tonko and Paulsen, and to Jason’s family, for taking a positive, proactive approach to this serious issue. The parking shortage for commercial motor vehicles compromises the safety of drivers out on the road.”
While the bill, introduced by in the House by Tonko and in the Senate by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has garnered bipartisan support, it has been mired in committee almost a year.
The legislation would provide grants for the following initiatives:
• Constructing safety rest areas that include parking for commercial motor vehicles.
• Constructing commercial motor vehicle parking facilities adjacent to commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
• Opening existing facilities to commercial motor vehicle parking, including inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities.
• Promoting the availability of publicly or privately provided commercial motor vehicle parking on the National Highway System using intelligent transportation systems and other means.
• Constructing turnouts along the National Highway System for commercial motor vehicles.
• Making capital improvements to public commercial motor vehicle parking facilities currently closed on a seasonal basis.
• Improving the geometric design of interchanges on the National Highway System to improve access to commercial motor vehicle parking facilities.
Meanwhile, the ATA said it was disturbed by the recent efforts of some states to balance their budgets by cutting funds for safety rest areas.
Not only are safety rest area closings an inconvenience for all motorists, but they also jeopardize highway safety, ATA noted.
“The creation of more long-term truck parking has been a longstanding issue within the trucking industry,” Osiecki said. “By 2020 the trucking industry will need to put over 1.8 million additional trucks on the road to meet our nation’s freight demand.”
The Trucker staff may be contacted to comment at email@example.com.