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 bill dedicates federal money to help construct, improve or reopen commercial parking facilities along the National Highway System.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7, 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 as part of the new two-year highway bill known as Map-21, or Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.
“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,” Todd Spencer, executive vice president for OOIDA, wrote in the letter.
Jason’s Law is named after the late Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver from Fultonham, NY, who arrived too early at his delivery point and was turned away. His delivery never took place because he was fatally shot and robbed for $7 after parking at an abandoned gas station about 12 miles from his delivery point.
In the letter, Spencer emphasized the need to ensure that federal funds are used to add more truck parking spaces around the country, and the money isn’t just used to add electronic signage directing truckers to already crammed truck 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.”
Also included in the Jason’s Law bill is a provision that requires the DOT, in consultation with state motor carrier safety staff, to conduct a survey of each state’s commercial motor vehicle parking capabilities and needs by April 1, 2014.
Nancy Singer, public affairs specialist for the Federal Highway Administration, told Land Line that the survey process is scheduled to begin this fall. The FHWA’s last report assessing states’ truck parking availability was done in 2002.
“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 in the letter.