Drivers petition legislators to reopen rest areas

March 9, 2012

In a push to call legislative attention to a critical truck safety issue, truckers in New York made a plea this week to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reopen six rest stops along state highways that were closed in 2010 due to budget cuts.

Truckers gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to petition Cuomo to reopen the rest areas.

“Rest for us is probably the most important part of our job,” truck driver David May told a reporter at Hudson Valley’s YNN News. “You can’t calculate when you’ll need a break, so we need sufficient places to stop. It shouldn’t be that we have to force ourselves to drive past those limits.”

“They’re trying to save money in the DOT budget and that’s a problem because they were put there for a purpose. They were put there to stop,” said truck driver Paul O’Mara. “It’s really not a great place probably to save a few dollars.”

“Really making an effort to get those rest areas reopened. It’s a safety issue,” said Kendra Adams, the president of the New York State Motor Truck Assn. “Our truck drivers are limited in the amount of hours they drive, and then they need to take 10 hours off-duty and we need to make sure they have safe places to park.”

Adams said with the lack of rest stops, drivers have put themselves in harm’s way, like by parking along entrance ramps or in abandoned parking lots.

Truckers pointed to the case of Jason Rivenburg, a trucker who was forced to stop at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina in 2009. “That driver lost his life," said O’Mara. “He was parked in an abandoned gas station when somebody broke into his truck.”

Rivenburg’s murder resulted in the push in Congress to pass “Jason’s Law,” a bill that would help fund safe truck parking throughout the U.S.

Following is a summary of what’s proposed in Jason’s Law:

  • Construction of safe truck parking facilities & construction of public parking facilities next to commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
  • Use existing facilities for truck parking, including inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities.
  • Construct turnouts along the National Highway System & promote the availability of publicly and privately owned parking.
  • Make capital improvements to public truck parking facilities currently closed on a seasonal basis.

For more information on Jason’s Law, visit http://jhlrivenburg.com/cgi/wp/.

About the Author

Deborah Whistler

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