Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lawmakers introduce a second Jason's Law bill for more truck parking

Two years after Schoharie County, N.Y., truck driver Jason Rivenburg was murdered at an abandoned South Carolina gas station, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., Wednesday morning were joined by Jason’s widow Hope and members of the transportation industry at the House Triangle outside the Capitol Building Wednesday morning to announce the reintroduction of another Jason’s Law, a bill aimed at increasing truck parking facilities across the country. Hope will personally lobbying members of Congress to cosponsor the bill.

Rivenburg was murdered in March 2009 during a robbery attempt for a meager $7. A long haul trucker, he had stopped to rest. The case called attention to the nationwide shortage of safe, accessible rest stops for truckers and led Tonko to introduce a similar bill in the 111th Congress.

Jason’s Law would create a grant program that would help alleviate the parking shortages and help pay for expansion and safety improvements at existing rest areas.

The American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association immeidately reaffirmed there support for Jason’s Law. The ATA called it critical safety legislation that would take steps to address the shortage of truck parking on nation’s highways.

“America’s professional truck drivers need access to safe and legal parking in order to get the rest they need to safely transport the nation’s essential goods and comply with federal hours-of-service rules,” Mary Phillips, ATA senior vice president of legislative affairs said at a press conference here. “We applaud Rep. Tonko for again introducing this critical legislation, and hope Congress will act quickly to deliver for those who deliver America’s goods. Our drivers shouldn’t be forced into the ‘no-win’ situation of choosing between continuing to drive to find safe parking or parking on the shoulder or ramp or other location that puts themselves or other motorists at risk.”

Jason’s Law would provide $20 million annually for a number of initiatives to improve access to truck parking across the country, ranging from construction of new parking capacity and improvements to existing commercial parking areas, to technology to track open parking spaces and improvements to existing noncommercial parking facilities to accommodate large trucks.

“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 9 years, we will add nearly 2 million more trucks to our roads to meet our nation’s freight demand.”

The creation of more long-term truck parking has been a longstanding issue for the trucking industry and is a key part of ATA’s progressive safety agenda.

“We would like to thank Mr. Tonko and Mr. Paulsen for their leadership and Hope for her tenacious dedication and courage,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “The trucking industry faces a litany of issues, and the least we can do is to make sure drivers have a safe place to rest while delivering the nation’s goods.”

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