By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
Professional truck drivers continue to struggle daily to find safe parking spaces to stop and rest. However, a provision known as “Jason’s Law” in the new highway law dedicates federal money to help construct, improve or reopen commercial parking facilities along the National Highway System.
In early August, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, urging the DOT to make truck parking a highway safety priority.
“The enactment of ‘Jason’s Law’ represents a clear signal by Congress that ensuring adequate and safe commercial motor vehicle parking along the National Highway System is a highway safety priority, equal with adding rumble strips, installing guard rails and improving signage,” wrote Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.
Jason’s Law is named after the late Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver from Fultonham, NY, who arrived too early at the receiver and was turned away. His delivery never took place because he was fatally shot and robbed for $7 while parked at an abandoned gas.
In the letter, Spencer emphasized the need to ensure that funds are used to add truck parking and not just signs directing truckers to full parking areas.
“The need to increase true investment in truck parking, and not simply add electronic signs directing truckers to rest areas that are already full for the evening, is well-known to our nation’s truckers,” Spencer wrote. “Every night, they face the prospect of getting to their planned truck stop or rest area only to find it filled to capacity, something that only adding more parking capacity can fix.”
The law also requires the DOT, in consultation with state motor carrier safety staff, to conduct a survey of each state’s truck parking capabilities and needs by April 1, 2014.
Nancy Singer, Federal Highway Administration spokeswoman, said the survey process is scheduled to begin this fall.
“OOIDA urges the department and the states to make truckers part of the process for gathering information about what locations represent the greatest and most urgent need for safe parking,” Spencer wrote. LL