As the clock continues to tick to get a new surface transportation bill passed before the current extension expires at midnight on Saturday, June 30, critical pieces of legislation remain in the current draft, including provisions for crashworthiness standards and truck parking. While those issues are critical for all truckers, they are ‘personal’ for two trucking widows who fought hard to make lawmakers aware of the need.
On Wednesday, June 28, Sarah Van Wasshnova told Land Line she was thrilled that the tentative highway bill includes the provision that calls for a comprehensive analysis on the need for crashworthiness standards no later than 18 months after the highway bill’s passage.
Van Wasshnova, of Port Orange, FL, who teaches high school English, has been championing for change after losing her husband, Carl, in a tragic accident more than two years ago. He was only going approximately 30 mph when he veered across the median to avoid a possible collision in front of him and hit an empty FedEx trailer. He died from blunt force trauma after hitting the steering column during the crash.
“If there would have been an airbag, maybe it would have protected him by maintaining a space between him and the steering column,” she said.
After Carl’s fatal crash, she said she was stunned to learn that airbags, which are mandatory in passenger vehicles, are not required in heavy truck cabs.
Sarah has traveled to Washington, DC, several times to speak to lawmakers about the need to study crashworthiness standards in commercial vehicles.
Her message was heard. The tentative highway bill calls for an “evaluation of the need for roof strength, pillar strength, air bags and other occupant protections standards and frontal and back wall standards.”
“I want everyone to know that truck drivers’ lives are just as important as the lives of those in passenger vehicles,” Van Wasshnova said recently.
Carl Van Wasshnova, a 30-year trucking veteran, was an OOIDA member.
Another key piece of legislation still included in the latest draft of the bill is the “Jason’s Law” provision, which calls for a long-term strategy to address the shortage of safe and secure truck parking along the National Highway System.
The bill is named for Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was fatally shot while parked at an abandoned gas station in March 2009.
Since that time, his widow, Hope Rivenburg, has been advocating for safe truck parking for truck drivers.
Hope has traveled several times to Washington, DC, to meet with lawmakers and tell Jason’s story and the importance of secure truck parking.
The tentative bill calls for constructing safety rest areas, constructing parking adjacent to commercial truck stops and travel plazas, as well as opening existing facilities for truck drivers at inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities.