Jason’s Law re-introduced to Congress

As states continue closing rest areas because of budget shortfalls, Congress is reconsidering Jason’s Law to increase access to truck parking.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) introduced H.R. 1803 on May 11, co-sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), which was referred to the transportation committee.

Jason’s Law would provide $20 million annually over six years for truck parking upgrades on the National Highway System to local governments and private entities, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The American Trucking Associations said the bill would fund initiatives that could include building new parking, improvements to existing commercial and non-commercial parking, and technology to track open parking spaces.

The legislation is named for New York trucker Jason Rivenburg, murdered during a 2009 robbery attempt at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.

Tonka and Jason’s widow, Hope Rivenburg, conducted a press conference May 11 outside the U.S. capitol building. They were joined by the OOIDA, ATA, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, American Moving & Storage Association and NATSO, the trade association representing travel plaza and truck stops.

Mary Phillips, ATA senior legislative affairs vice president, said truckers should not have to park on Interstate shoulders, ramps and other locations, placing themselves and other drivers at risk.

“The fact that states have been considering closing existing parking facilities in order to address their budget shortfalls underscores the need for this legislation,” Phillips said. “If left unaddressed, the lack of truck parking will reach a crisis stage; over the next nine years, we will add nearly two million more trucks to our roads to meet our nation’s freight demand.”

During the previous congressional session, Tonka introduced Jason’s law, which was referred to subcommittee with 45 co-sponsors. Also that session, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a similar bill, which was referred to committee with one co-sponsor.