Jason’s Law and the Importance of a Safe Place to Rest

If you’re involved in the transportation industry, you’ve heard about or been directly affected by the revised HOS regulations. If you’ve lived anywhere but under a rock this year, you’ve heard about the tragedy of Tracy Morgan involving a sleep-deprived Walmart truck driver. A story you may not be as familiar with, however, is that of Jason Rivenburg.

Jason was a father, husband and truck driver who was murdered in 2009 after pulling his truck over at an abandoned gas station while waiting to drop off freight. Jason and his wife, Hope, had a two year old son, and just thirteen days after Jason’s murder, Hope gave birth to twins. Since Jason’s murder Hope has worked tirelessly to get regulations for safe trucker parking passed through the US government, including Jason’s Law.

The argument made in Jason’s Law is that if truck drivers are expected to comply with HOS regulations, they should be able to find a safe place to pull over and get some sleep. It calls for using government-owned, existing facilities such as rest stops and weigh stations, as safe places for truckers to park. The law calls for simple additions such as better lighting, fences, and video or in-person surveillance.

After much hard work from Hope and everyone who advocated with her, Jason’s Law was passed by the US Senate in late 2012. The law provides over $6 million in federal funding toward the development of safe roadside parking lots. The projects include building new facilities as well redesigning existing facilities to make them safer.

So why do we bring this up if the law has already been passed? Because the law doesn’t seem to be helping. Just six months ago in June 2014, another tragedy occurred that was strangely similar to Jason and Hope’s story. Michael Boeglin pulled his truck over in an abandoned parking lot in order to get some sleep. He was shot and killed, then his cab was set on fire. His wife, Ashley, was pregnant with their first child.

Trucker safety is an extremely important issue; one that requires support from the public. We all want truck drivers to comply with HOS regulations because it ensures that our roads are safe, but we must advocate for their safety as well. Truck drivers say goodbye to their families and head out on the road for days at a time so that stores are stocked with the products that we need. Isn’t it only fair that drivers have an opportunity to get a good night’s sleep without fearing for their safety?