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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Politicians Getting more Pressure to Support Jason’s Law

The 3rd national call in to Washington on September 29th by Jason’s Law supporters, asking politicians to support       HR 2156 and S971, was another success, gathering more momentum and sparking political involvement.   The need for more truck parking has reached a national awareness and Washington is feeling the pressure from people who want answers.

The biggest concern for many is the funds from the Highway Trust Fund ( collected from gas and diesel fuel tax) which in the past, did not appear to be  adequately or properly allocated in the highway program to sufficiently address the needs for the truck parking shortages.

It was the murder of truck driver Jason Rivenburg that first began the public  awareness for the truck parking shortage. The FMCSA has acknowledged the need for more truck parking for many years now, however, funding to address the problem has been limited to say the least .  Correlation between the lack of truck parking, truck driver fatigue, and highway fatalities has now peaked political and public interest alike.

Bills HR 2156 and S971 were submitted in April and May of 2009 by Congressman Paul Tonko and Senator Charles Schumer, both of NY state where Jason Rivenburg was a resident with his wife Hope and children.

Hope Rivenburg, Jason’s widow, has orchestrated the 3 call in’s to Washington  with the support of Congressman Tonko.
The first call in on June 28th by Jason’s Law supporters was directed to House and Senate representatives.

The second call in on September 15th was directed to Senator Charles Schumer’s office, with  focus that day  quickly transferred to the Transportation and Infrastructure committee in the House ( HR 2156) and the Environment and Public Works Committee of the Senate( S971) It was this call in to Washington that has raised the most awareness and acknowledgement for more safe truck parking.

The last call in on Sept 29th was targeted towards the chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, James Oberstar and also the chair of the Environment and public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer.  Also called that day were  other members  of these committees:
John Mica(R- Transportation and Infrastructure, John Duncan ( R- Highways and Transit sub-committee), and Peter Defazio (D- Highways and transit sub-committee)  Transportation councils and communication directors from all committees  expressed their deep concern for the need for truck parking and understand the strong correlation to highway safety.

According to those we ‘ve spoken to, Jason’s Law ( which will replace SAFTEA LU) will be a significant part of the new highway program.
Re-authorization  of the Highway Program funds will take place in 2011. ( From Highway Trust Fund)

Ironically, the state of New York, a state that has had truck parking shortages for years, closed 6 more rest areas in an effort to save money.
This has sparked outrage among Jason’s law supporters and truck drivers nationwide. Hope Rivenburg was furious when she heard that her home state of NY was adding to the already dangerous truck parking shortage situation.  She has now called for a protest of the New York state rest area closings. The state has other options than to close their badly needed rest areas, including 7 million dollars in SAFTEA LU which states can apply for ( grant money.)

The protest is scheduled to begin on Oct 31st, with truckers from all over meeting at the NY Schodack rest area on Interstate 90 westbound between exits 11 and 12. READ MORE

The NewYork state” rest area closings and truck driver protest” will no doubt bring even more awareness towards truck parking shortages and the need for Jason’s Law.
Hopefully the protest will lead to Jason’s Law being a topic of discussion in Congress after the elections, during the lame duck sessions, creating even more awareness before the January 2011 sessions and the re-authorization of the highway program.

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