New York bill targets better truck parking options

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/3/2011
Submitted photo

Christmas 2010 photo of Josh, who will be 3 in April, and twins, Logan and Hezekiah, who will turn 2 on March 18. They were born 15 days after their dad’s death.

Referred to as ?Jason?s Law,? the bill would create various programs intended to strengthen truck driver safety. Sponsored by Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R/C/I-Schoharie, A3471 would create the motor carrier safety and security revolving loan program fund to help pay for upgrades.

At the federal level, a similar effort is expected to be introduced soon.

The legislation is named for Jason Rivenburg. The Schoharie County, NY, truck driver was murdered two years ago at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.

On March 5, 2009, Jason arrived at his receiver?s lot too early to deliver and was turned away because they didn?t allow overnight truck parking. His appointment time was not until the next morning. Shortly after he parked at an unlit gas station near St. Matthews, SC, he was robbed of the $7 he had and was fatally shot.

This is Lopez?s second try at getting Jason?s Law through the statehouse. A year ago, his bill never advanced from committee.

He is hopeful that this time around will be different. Lopez wrote in a memo attached to the bill that ?the tragic situation highlights the seriousness of the problem surrounding the lack of available, safe and secure parking facilities for truckers.

?If we are going to require truckers to take regular breaks, it is imperative that we provide them with a safe place to rest.?

Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Lou Esposito of Duanesburg, NY, attended a meeting last fall that was attended by Lopez, state DOT, and thruway officials. Participants discussed strategies to keep rest areas open.

Esposito pointed out that rest areas in use throughout the state ?are inadequate in size and number to satisfy the need of the traveling public.?

He noted that no facilities are available along a 90-mile stretch of Interstate 88.

To improve the situation for truckers in New York, the bill would offer interest-free loans to owners or operators of private rest areas, truck stops, travel plazas and any other facility that provides truck drivers with a safe place to park.

A 20 percent tax credit would be made available for shipping and receiving facilities that agree to provide truck drivers with a secure area to rest while waiting for pending appointments or to comply with federal hours-of-service regulations.

It would also create a 50 percent tax credit for owners or operators of private rest areas, truck stops, travel plazas and any other facility providing truck drivers with safe refuge.

In addition, a ?bull pen? demonstration program would be created along the New York State Thruway. The program would test the affordability and effectiveness of developing dedicated parking facilities to provide a safe place for truckers to rest. Facilities would be required to include fencing, security cameras, gated entrances and limited lavatory accommodations.

Lopez noted that the state could potentially implement its plans at no cost. New York would apply for federal funding once federal legislation has been enacted.

In the meantime, Esposito told Land Line that one parking option that needs to be used is the doubles parking yards located around the state.

?Something must be done with all of these trucks. Where are they supposed to park? There?s nowhere for them to park.?

A3471 is awaiting consideration in the Assembly Transportation Committee. An identical Senate bill ?S2359 ? is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association encourages New York truckers to contact their state lawmakers in support of Jason?s Law.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New York, click here.

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