OOIDA urges Montana members to comment on rest area plan by Aug. 18

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 8/7/2014

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has submitted comments and is urging its Montana members to do the same regarding the Montana Department of Transportation’s efforts to update its state rest area plan.

Comments are due by Aug. 18 and may be submitted by email or by mail.

In July, the MDT released a draft of the agency’s proposed rest area plan and is seeking input on prioritizing the needs at its rest areas and facilities across the state.

In its comments, OOIDA emphasized the importance of roadside rest areas and truck parking facilities, which small-business truckers rely on to get much-needed rest, as well as comply with federal hours-of-service regulations and the 30-minute break requirement.

OOIDA also urged the MDT to “maximize the new flexibilities for investing in truck parking provided by Jason’s Law,” which seeks to address the shortage of truck parking availability across the county.

Jason’s Law, which was enacted into the current federal highway law by Congress in 2012, is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg. He was fatally shot in March 2009 while parked in an abandoned gas station after being turned away from the distribution center where he was scheduled to deliver the next morning.

“The Montana Rest Area Plan (MRAP) should include details of how the state plans to direct federal and state funds under Jason’s Law and how the state is incorporating improved and expanded truck parking into other state planning efforts, including the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan and any state freight planning activities.”

As part of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – or Map-21 – the Federal Highway Administration was required to survey and assess the adequacy of truck parking in the states. The results of the FHWA survey have not been released yet.

“Rest areas provide truckers with a safer place to park,” OOIDA said in its comments. “Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, truckers are frequently forced to park in areas that are not safe and they can easily become a victim of theft, vandalism, assault and even homicide.” 

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