The American Trucking Associations strongly encourages Congress to pass “Jason’s Law” to address shortages in safe parking for commercial motor vehicles on the National Highway System, ATA Senior Vice President Dave Osiecki said Tuesday, March 16, during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
Named after slain New York truck driver Jason Rivenburg, the legislation allows the U.S. Department of Transportation – in cooperation with appropriate state, regional and local governments – to allocate funds for new safety rest areas and the expansion and improvement of existing safety rest areas that serve the highway system.
“Professional truck drivers must have access to safe, legal parking to get the rest they need to safely deliver America’s freight,” Osiecki 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.”
The press conference, held by U.S. Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Jason’s wife, Hope Rivenburg, comes 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.
“We’re grateful to Congressmen Tonko and Paulsen, and to Jason’s family, for taking a positive, proactive approach to this serious issue,” Osiecki said. “The parking shortage for commercial motor vehicles compromises the safety of drivers out on the road.”
Introduced by Tonko last May, “Jason’s Law” (H.R. 2156) has garnered bipartisan support in the House. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a companion bill (S. 971) in the Senate. 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; and
• Improving the geometric design of interchanges on the National Highway System to improve access to commercial motor vehicle parking facilities.
Osiecki said ATA is disturbed by the recent efforts of some states to balance their budgets by cutting funds for safety rest areas, saying that not only are safety rest area closings an inconvenience for all motorists, but they also jeopardize highway safety.