Thursday, August 27, 2015

Scandal of Truck Parking for US Freight Companies Remains but One Woman's Persistence is Paying Off

Department of Transport Recognise the Need for 'Jason's Law'
Shipping News Feature

US – UK – In 2010 we wrote a piece illustrating the work being done by Hope Rivenburg to persuade US politicians to provide more safe overnight truck parking for drivers waiting to deliver or collect freight. Hope’s husband Jason had been brutally murdered a year earlier for a paltry $7, when he was forced to stop in an unlit abandoned gas station for lack of proper facilities. The problem of course is not limited to the US and a later story told of a UK trucker almost burnt alive in his cab whilst sleeping after an arson attack.

This week Jason’s widow was the first to sign up to a call to action by the National Coalition on Truck Parking (NCTP), which aims to stimulate a national dialogue on the minimum standards required to keep drivers safe. The US Department of Transportation (DoT) is supporting this ‘Jason’s Law Proclamation’ and the National Coalition includes the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the American Trucking Associations, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

A recently DoT commissioned survey highlighted that virtually all states have a paucity of truck parking available at all times of the day on every day of the week. The survey was a mandatory order to the DoT under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), and the analysis includes a discussion of the factors that can influence truck parking and offers ways to improve the measurement of the overall truck parking problem, including the collection of data on supply and demand, congestion and safety.

The plan is for the DoT and the NCTP to talk to local authorities, including police and local governments, plus stakeholders such as freight companies and road haulage operators, to see what can be done. According to the Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau the current Administration plans to invest $478 billion over the next six years in transport infrastructure, $18 billion of which will be ring fenced for freight requirements.

After the ongoing debacle which is the Highway Trust Fund refinancing, we wait with bated breath to see if such an amount will really materialise. One thing however is for sure, Hope Rivenburg, who has had to live through the agony of giving birth to twins born ten weeks after their father’s murder and watch them grow without ever knowing him, shows no signs of giving up her one woman campaign on behalf of the truckers of America.

Photo: Hope Rivenburg addresses the politicians before signing the Proclamation.