Truckers urged to call lawmakers about ‘Jason’s Law’ bills

| 9/17/2009

Family members of Jason Rivenburg have made tremendous strides in the past six months to honor the slain trucker’s memory after he was fatally shot while parked in his rig at an abandoned gas station near St. Matthews, SC.

Photo by Suzanne Stempinski

Hope Rivenburg recently traveled to GATS in Dallas, TX, to garner support for Jason’s Law bills. She is pictured here with her nearly 6-month-old twins, Logan and Hezekiah, and Josh, 2, at her booth. The twins were born just 13 days after Jason’s death.

Jason’s family members have been tirelessly working with U.S. lawmakers to introduce two “Jason’s Law” bills in both the U.S. House and Senate to implement a pilot program to address the shortage of long-term parking for commercial vehicles.

In August, Jason’s widow, Hope Rivenburg, of Fultonham, NY, along with her 5-month-old twins, Logan and Hezekiah, and 2-year-old son, Josh, met with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY. In September, Gillibrand signed on as a co-sponsor to the bill Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, introduced in the Senate – S971. She also traveled to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, TX, in August, to spread the word about the importance of truckers having safe truck parking options.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, who first introduced his bill in late April, now has 22 co-sponsors who have signed onto HR2156.

Melissa Theriault Rohan, associate director of government affairs in OOIDA’s Washington, DC, office, is urging OOIDA members who haven’t contacted their lawmakers yet about the importance of these Jason’s Law bills to do so – and soon.

“It’s imperative for our members to advocate for more truck parking in their home states,” Rohan said. “Hopefully, with Sen. Gillibrand signing on, this will spark more movement on the Senate side and bring the national truck parking shortage to the forefront on transportation policy. However, we continue to ask truckers to call their lawmakers and stress the importance of these bills.”

On March 5, Jason was forced to park at an unlit gas station because he arrived too early to deliver his load of milk to the Food Lion distribution center in Elloree, SC. Food Lion’s policy was to allow trucks on to their property “up to one hour prior to the scheduled docking time.”

However, OOIDA member Eddie Battle of Forest City, NC, said recently Food Lion must have changed its policy because he was allowed to take his full 10-hour break when he arrived with his load at the same distribution center where Jason was scheduled to unload on March 6. 

Sandy Hardendorf, Jason’s aunt who wrote the online petition that has collected more than 8,000 signatures mainly from truckers and their families, said she wrote the petition as a way to deal with the family’s grief – and also as a way to shine a light on the security dilemmas truckers face when out on the road. She said they have collected another 4,000 signatures through paper petitions that “Jason’s Law” supporters have been circulating.

“If we can save just one life, it will be worth every bit of time and effort that we have put into this,” Hardendorf wrote in an e-mail to Land Line.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer