Jason's Law is proposed federal legislation (HR 2156/ S. 971) that aims to lessen the risks to driver safety and security created by inadequate truck parking.
It has been brought forward in memory of Jason Rivenburg, a driver who was shot and killed as he rested in his truck parked in a “safe” gas station while waiting for the appointed time to make his first delivery on March 5, 2009.
Although Jason's Law is a measure sure to garner wide bipartisan support, it is nonetheless languishing in Congress. “The bill is still in committee on both sides,” Hope Rivenburg, Jason's widow and mother of their three young children, tells Fleet Owner. “The only holdup that we are aware of is the Transportation Reauthorization Act that kept getting postponed. We feel that it will get passed seeing as it is one of the few bipartison bills in the house, but when is unknown.”
In the meantime, and regardless of any law that may be passed on the federal or state level, Hope and the entire Rivenburg family contend that much can be done by carriers and shippers directly to alleviate the desperate need for safe, secure — and legal — truck parking.
Accordingly, they urge shippers to allow drivers who reach their destination early to enter their facilities to “stage” their trucks on site. The family also states on its memorial website (www.jhlrivenburg.com ) that drivers are being “put out of facilities (often by the police)” when they have exceeded hours of service and can't legally drive further.
“If shippers and receivers were required to let drivers stage inside their facilities up to 12 hours before and/or after their appointment in order for them to drive legally, this would not only give drivers a safe harbor, but it could take a percentage of the trucks out of the rush hour traffic and off secondary streets,” say the Rivenburgs. “Many companies do this for their own drivers.”
As for operations that lack the space or facilities for drivers to rest, the family argues that the “bull pen concept” can be applied. They describe a bull pen as “an area off the highway but close to an industrial or warehouse area that is secure and has basic amenities where trucks can stage to wait to deliver or pick up a load. This could be paid for either by an association of the area businesses or a dedicated tax based on the number of docking doors a business has.”
However, the Rivenburgs concede that “rest areas seem to be where most of the focus currently rests.” They cite California's Safety Roadside Rest Area System Master Plan as the most comprehensive such plan they know of in the country. “The simple truth is rest areas save lives,” they say, noting that the commonly accepted distance between rest areas is 30 min. of driving time.
“Businesses can also partner with their state's department of transportation to provide auxiliary lots,” suggests the family. “These would be located less than one-half mile from the highway, be secure, and maintained by the businesses. These would take some pressure off the rest areas. ”