Emotional day as lawmaker reintroduces ‘Jason’s Law’ bill

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 5/11/2011

It was an emotional day for Hope Rivenburg. She stood alongside U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, as he reintroduced his Jason’s Law bill, calling for safe parking options for truck drivers across the United States.

Photo by Ryan Bowley

Left to right, Hope Rivenburg, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, and OOIDA Executive VP Todd Spencer at today’s reintroduction of “Jason’s Law.”

At a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 11, Tonko announced HR1803, which would create a grant program to increase the number of safe truck parking spots. The bill has already garnered bipartisan support as U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-MN, has signed on as a co-sponsor.

“It was so good to see the trucking industry come together to support this bill,” Rivenburg told Land Line on Wednesday.

At the Jason’s Law news conference, Todd Spencer, executive vice president for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, spoke about the dangers drivers face daily when they must rest and can’t find safe truck parking places while out on the road.

“We would like to thank Mr. Tonko and Mr. Paulsen for their leadership, and Hope for her tenacious dedication and courage,” Spencer said. “The trucking industry faces a litany of issues, and the least we can do it make sure drivers have a safe place to rest while delivering the nation’s goods.”

The bill calls for $20 million per year for five years and would use funding that currently exists instead of asking for additional funding for truck parking.

A little more than two years ago, Jason Rivenburg, a trucker from Schoharie County, was fatally shot after he was forced to park his rig in an unlit gas station. He had arrived too early to deliver his load of milk at the Food Lion warehouse in Elloree, SC. Rivenburg’s killer was sentenced to life in prison in South Carolina in December 2009.

While in DC, Hope Rivenburg said she also visited the Senate building, where she left copies of Tonko’s new Jason’s Law bill.

“I hope that a Senator will read Tonko’s bill and decide to introduce a similar bill on the Senate side,” she said.

Previously, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, introduced a Jason’s Law bill in the 111th Congress, but she hasn’t heard back from his office yet to find out if he will be reintroducing the bill in the current session.

Other speakers at the event included: Lisa Mullings, chief executive officer at the National Association of Truck Stop Operators; Richard Henderson, director of government affairs for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA); Paul Oakley, senior vice president of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA); and Mary Phillips, senior vice president of the American Trucking Association (ATA).

“It was an emotional day for me, but the fact that more drivers have continued to die like Jason did, just parked in their trucks, gives me the strength to push forward,” Hope Rivenburg said. “The drivers deserve safe parking.”