Few things are more tragic than a senseless death– one that could have been prevented. In March 2009, truck driver Jason Rivenburg, 35, had just delivered a load in Virginia and was heading to South Carolina. Jason was ahead of schedule for his next delivery, which was only 12 miles away.
Jason was scheduled to deliver at Food Lion supermarket. The store would not accept early deliveries and would not allow Jason to park on their property and wait until his appointed time, so Jason pulled into an abandoned gas station– the only place with available parking in the area.
Willie Pelzer was a thug, a career felon. Pelzer was at a gas station across the road from the abandoned gas station Jason had parked at. Authorities believe Pelzer was looking for someone to rob. He noticed Jason’s truck and crossed the street, and climbed under Jason’s trailer to wait for him to go to sleep. At approximately 10:30 that night, Pelzer entered Jason’s truck and shot him twice in the head. Pelzer walked away with $7.00.
Just thirteen days after Jason’s murder, his wife Hope delivered twins. Jason left behind a wife and three children.
The death of Jason Rivenburg was senseless. Had the receiver allowed Jason to park on their lot and wait to deliver, or had more truck parking been available in the area, Jason may still be alive today.
Jason’s Law Was Born
Jason’s wife Hope found purpose in tragedy. Hope was on a mission to provide safe parking for truck drivers. She began lobbying for change. Congressman Paul Tonko, with the support of Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MT), introduced Jason’s Law on April 28th, 2009; however, Congress did not get a chance to vote on the bill.
On May 5th, 2009 Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand also introduced Jason’s Law as S 1187. to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Although the bill was widely supported, funds were not available, so the bill did not make it to the floor.
Three years and more failed attempts later, Jason’s Law finally passed.
Jason’s Law press release from Tonko, Gillibrand and Schumer:
Truck drivers work tirelessly every day to keep New York’s businesses running. At the very least, they deserve to be safe while doing so, said Senator Schumer. Jason’s Law enables states to improve parking for truck drivers so that when these hard-working individuals stop to rest, they are safer and better protected. Jason Rivenburg was killed in a senseless act of violence. This legislation honors Jason’s memory and will help prevent this type of horrific tragedy from happening again.
After losing her husband to heartbreaking tragedy, Hope Rivenburg made the case to lawmakers in Washington that protecting truck drivers at road stops must be a priority, said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that first included the measure in its version of the Transportation Reauthorization bill. Jason’s Law takes the right steps to ensure we’re giving truck drivers the protections they need with safe and secure parking facilities so we can prevent tragedies, and save lives.
Jason’s Law was the first bill I ever introduced, said Congressman Paul Tonko, who wrote the original version of the bill in 2009. In the memory of Jason Rivenburg, in honor of his widow Hope and her family, and on behalf of all the nation’s truck drivers and motorists, I am extremely pleased to have authored and passed this legislation. There’s precious little in our economy that isn’t hauled by truck “ and Jason’s Law will ensure it is done so safely while working to ensure a tragedy similar to Jason’s never happens again.
As included in the Senate transportation reauthorization bill, Jason’s Law authorizes funding to be spent on truck parking facilities and identifies that it is a national priority to address the shortage of long-term parking for commercial motor vehicles and the safety of drivers.
Projects eligible to be funded with highway safety funds include:
· Constructing safety rest areas that include parking for commercial motor vehicles.
· Constructing commercial motor vehicle parking facilities adjacent to commercial truck stops and travel plazas.
· Opening existing facilities to commercial motor vehicle parking, including inspection and weigh stations and park-and-ride facilities.
· Promoting the availability of publicly or privately provided commercial motor vehicle parking on the National Highway System using intelligent transportation systems and other means.
· Constructing turnouts along the National Highway System for commercial motor vehicles.
· Making capital improvements to public commercial motor vehicle parking facilities currently closed on a seasonal basis to allow the facilities to remain open year-round.
· Improving the geometric design of interchanges on the National Highway System to improve access to commercial motor vehicle parking facilities.
Before the construction of new parking facilities takes place, the Department of Transportation will conduct a survey of the available parking areas for trucks and evaluate where more parking is needed.
Jason’s Law will allocate an estimated $100 million to be spent over the next six years, across the United States, to provide safe parking for trucks.
*No concrete dollar amount has been allocated. The dollar figure is merely an estimate based on preliminary budget totals.
What can you do?
Contact the Department of Transportation. Tell them where more truck parking is needed. You can reach them at: U.S. Department of Transportation 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590 or 855-368-4200.
Hope Rivenburg is proof that one voice can change the world. Make your voice count