Trucking organizations are encouraging Congress to pass “Jason’s Law” to address shortages in safe parking for commercial motor vehicles on the National Highway System.
Named after slain New York truck driver Jason Rivenburg, the legislation would allow the U.S. Department of Transportation – in cooperation with state, regional and local governments – to allocate funds for new safe rest areas and the expansion and improvement of existing safe rest areas that serve the highway system.
A Washington, D.C. press conference, held yesterday, March 16, by U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Jason’s wife, Hope Rivenburg, marked one year after Jason was shot to death 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 got away with $7.
“Professional truck drivers must have access to safe, legal parking to get the rest they need to safely deliver America’s freight,” said Dave Osiecki, senior vice president at the American Trucking Associations. “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.”
Melissa Therault Rohan, associate director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, spoke in favor of more safe truck parking.
“Every day the nationwide shortage of safe and secure truck parking threatens the well-being of Americans who make their living behind the wheel of commercial motor vehicles,” Rohan said.
Introduced by Tonko last May, “Jason’s Law” (H.R. 2156) has garnered 36 cosponsors in the House. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a companion bill (S. 971) in the Senate. The legislation would provide $120 million in grants over six years 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; and
• Improving the geometric design of interchanges on the National Highway System to improve access to commercial motor vehicle parking facilities.