Joined together at a press conference with Congressman Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) at the House Triangle outside of the Capitol Building stood Hope Rivenburg, widow of truck driver Jason Rivenburg, along with:
- Todd Spencer, Executive VP, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
- Lisa Mullings, CEO, National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO)
- Richard Henderson, Director of Government Affairs, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)
- Paul Oakley, Senior VP, American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA) and
- Mary Phillips, Senior VP, American Trucking Association (ATA).
The press conference occurred 1 day after the press release from Congressman Tonko’s office. The press conference announced the introduction of the bill, Jason’s Law H.R.1803 which would provide increased truck parking facilities across the country, addressing the severe shortages which have been in existence for nearly 2 decades.
HR 1803 will be within an amended version of SAFTEA-LU within the new Transportation Bill. Funds for the bill will be from an existing congestion mitigation air quality account which would address Republican concerns for “no new spending.”
Hope Rivenburg will be lobbying once again, gathering support for co-sponsors. The Bill already has bipartisan support with Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-MN as an original co-sponsor. HR 1803 has now been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Jason’s Law would create a grant program of 20 million dollars per year over 6 years that would help alleviate the parking shortages and help pay for expansion and safety improvements at existing rest areas. Many of the country’s rest areas have been forced to close because of the lack of state funds which has added to the already critical shortage of truck parking. Sections of HR 1803 will address these rest area closings as – “Truck Parking Inventory.”
The bill will address construction of new parking, improvements to existing commercial parking areas, tracking of open parking spaces and improvements to existing non-commercial parking facilities accommodating large trucks.
Two years ago a similar bill, HR 2156 was introduced by Congressman Tonko to Congress after one of his constituents of Schoharie County, truck driver Jason Rivenburg, was shot and killed as he parked to rest for the evening at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. Because of the isolated location of the gas station, Jason was an easy target for crime (robbery) and his life was taken for a meager $7.00.
He left behind his pregnant wife Hope, a 2 year old son Josh and unborn twins. Unfortunately, this sort of criminal activity is way too common for many truck drivers as they struggle to locate safe haven to rest, finding themselves at many times, to be” sitting ducks” for criminal opportunists due to the truck parking shortages.
The lack of truck parking also causes highway risks as drivers are forced to drive tired attempting to locate available parking, forced to park on exit and entrance ramps and risk breaking federal HOS laws.
Hope Rivenburg spoke to us today and has expressed her gratitude for everyone coming on board with Jasons Law, including Lisa Mullings, CEO of NATSO who personally told her that NATSO is a strong supporter of Jason’s Law.
The bottom line is that the trucking industry is in agreement that the safety of truck drivers should be a major focus. The new federal regulations and proposals being placed upon drivers will greatly enhance the dangers of the truck parking shortages existing. As highway safety is a major concern of the DOT and FMCSA, the need for more truck parking is a vital and key piece to ensure their goal of safety for all.
Hope Rivenburg is a nominee for the “Making a Difference Award” which will be presented at the First Annual Truck Driver Convention in October in Tunica, MS.
Unity and Support for the professional CDL driver will be the theme of this ground breaking event. Supporters and sponsors thus far for the event include IdleAir, Pilot/FlyingJ, T/A-PetroTravel Centers, Lone Mountain Truck Leasing, OOIDA, The Load Post, The Truckers Forum, Trans Products and Services and Hotels4Truckers.org.