Will Jason's Law Fix
the Truck Parking
By Vicki Simons
focus on the issue of
safe parking for
professional truck drivers in the USA. June 23, 2011 was the day
designated as the National
Call-in Day for "Jason's Law," named after Jason Rivenburg, the New
truck driver who was killed in our
home state of South Carolina. This
event is a black mark on our state and my husband Mike and I are
anyone, trucker or not, is murdered. (By way of
and I both have our CDLs, both have commercial truck driving
experience, and Mike
is currently employed as a commercial truck driver.)
However, what will Jason's Law, H.R. 1803, do for truckers? Let's look
at some points that seem to have been overlooked or not considered
- Was it government's fault that
Jason died? No, it was his murderer's fault.
- Will it be government's fault
if another trucker dies
parked? It's possible.
- Can government prevent another
trucker from dying?
Not at all.
In all honesty, since when did it become government's
try to protect or otherwise provide safe parking for large trucks
through rest areas, service areas, parking areas or commercial truck
stops)? Building truck parking is best left to private businesses who
are better able to meet truckers' needs than government can.
Jason's Law in the U.S. House of Representatives is H.R.
companion bill in the U.S. Senate is S.
We'll focus on the House bill. The language enables what
is known as public-private partnerships. Here's a key quote from the
"A State, metropolitan planning organization, or local
government may partner with a private sector entity if the application
for funding is consistent with eligibility requirements set forth in
paragraph 3 of this subsection and consistent with section 111(a) of
title 23, United States Code."
It also allows for "Maintaining existing
facilities if appropriate."
OK, let's unpack that. If a private business built a
truck stop for safe parking on its
own, it wouldn't need a public-private partnership. However, once a
public-private partnership with a government entity is established for
truck parking, then government has just gotten involved with a truck
stop (any place a truck stops). Please note, too, that the legislation
does not limit the kind or size of truck parking facility whatsoever.
Until the law changes to allow
privatization, rest areas, service areas and parking areas
interstates and other roads do not fall under the public-private
partnership category because
they are totally paid for by the government.
Please also note that current use of rest areas does not
mean that a person endorses Jason's Law. There is a difference between
the funding of the two types of facilities. Speaking of funding, let's
look at that...
Parking: A Realistic Look at Funding
The trend as more and more states cut
their budgets is to close rest areas. An article in The Wall Street Journal details
Closing rest areas reduces the availability of
So, why aren't more truck stops being built near metropolitan and
traffic-dense areas like along I-95 in the northeastern USA? We believe
that government regulation often prevents them from being
built. I'll get to that below, but back to the funding issue...
Assuming for a brief moment that Jason's Law is passed,
where will the
truck parking areas be built? If the public-private partnerships that
Jason's Law permits allows the private sector to build in these places,
why not allow the businesses to finance the entire facility?
want to do a bit of research on the problems associated with
public-private partnerships to better understand what this legislation
can potentially bring with it.
For now, look at some recent articles and determine
government entities are likely to help fund additional truck parking:
If certain states and municipalities are in budgetary crisis, are
cutting back in their budgets, or are financially broke, then they have
no intention of putting taxpayer dollars toward the
expansion of truck parking. Hence, there will be no public-private
partnerships coming from them and Jason's Law as far as they are
concerned is a moot point. The law becomes merely "feel-good"
legislation that takes supporters for fools.
Taking one giant step backward for perspective, where in the U.S.
Constitution is authorization for Congress to fund
rest areas or truck stops? Assuming that the funding for the truck
parking areas described in Jason's Law falls on the states or other
government entities, how many will be able to kick in a part of the
Parking: Government Protection?
Can government protect truckers at rest areas or truck stops built
after Jason's Law is passed?
To answer that question, one must consider
the track record. Have you ever Googled phrases like
- "stabbed at
- "killed at rest area" or
- the more specific "trucker
at 'rest area'"?
The results are shocking.
If parking areas are built, then protection can
guaranteed or enhanced by some form of ongoing security. In other
words, when government gets its foot in the
door, the control will not stop but will likely increase. This is
Private business is far better able to provide security for their lots
than government. Do people get killed at commercial truck stops? Yes,
but very rarely.
Parking: Government, Please Protect Us!
Why have we allowed ourselves to become so conditioned so as to think
that no matter what the problem, we can turn to government to protect
us? Is this not "nanny state" thinking?
Jason Rivenburg's murderer was looking for someone to
steal from. He
was looking for an easy target. It could have been anyone, whether a
trucker or not. Other truckers have been killed at rest stops in the
past. Here are just two examples:
And no one can say that more truckers won't be killed in
future. Every murder is a tragedy but government cannot prevent it.
is against the
law but it takes place every day. People get murdered in hotel rooms,
so using the same logic as some people are using regarding Jason's Law,
should government allow for
public-private partnerships to build hotels? (No!)
Once government gets its foot in the door on
the issue of safe parking for large trucks, the likely outcome is that
will pay more than they should and liberty will be reduced.
What needs to be reduced and eliminated is the
that prevents private businesses from building commercial truck stops
where they are most needed.
How many situations regarding "protection" has
involved in -- that it had no
business being involved in -- where the problems that they tried to
solve got only bigger or worse?
Why should taxpayers fund (in part or in
full) what has worked most successfully in the past: privately built
monitored truck parking?
Parking: Current Prohibitions
Let's get real about safe parking for large trucks: some
places already forbid overnight parking for commercial motor vehicles
in publicly built lots where there is plenty of room. Our neighboring
Georgia is a classic example. Check out the signs along I-75. We've
even seen a time limit on truck
parking at a rest area in South Carolina. So are we going to press for
more places like this?
Parking: Our Experience
Someone reading this may feel that I don't understand
the nature of the
truck parking problem. So I will relate two of our personal
experiences, both of which happened when Mike was driving his
company-issued truck and I was riding with him as his passenger.
- Our first experience is brief: Coming out of the
northeastern USA one
evening, we wanted to stop for dinner but could not because there was
nowhere to park. Mike drove through New Jersey and most of the way
through Pennsylvania -- finally finding truck parking at the seventh
(yes, 7th) place where we tried to find it -- just before his Hours of
out. We weren't able to eat dinner until after 11 p.m. that night.
- Our second experience is about the worst night's
"sleep" I ever got,
which was in Milford, Connecticut. We had to stop because Mike was near
the end of his Hours of Service. On I-95 at exit 40, there are two
commercial truck stops, a Pilot and the Secondi Brothers. We noticed
that there was a long line of trucks waiting to get into the Pilot, so
we knew there was no room to park there.
Mike circled the Secondi
Brothers' lot twice, looking for anything even close to a safe and
legal parking space. There was absolutely nothing. Drivers who had
before us had used every available space. It was good that they were
able to park. Unfortunately, we could not. We do not know how many
other drivers tried
to find parking at one of those two commercial truck stops that night,
but could not.
Mike took his chances by traveling just north to the service area.
Nothing was guaranteed about parking there either. Even if a space for
a large truck was available, it might not have been something he could
get his rig into. We were blessed to find an open spot that was easily
However, during the night, Mike's truck got knocked on 5
times. For safety reasons, we never answered the knocks. It could have
been a lot lizard looking for business or a panhandler looking for
money, who knows. Mike was able to get a little sleep, but I was jarred
awake (even while wearing the ear plugs that I routinely use when I
sleep) every time someone knocked. It was very nerve wracking. If
someone had been intent on doing
us harm at that service area, he or she could very easily have done so.
It must be remembered that "safe parking" for trucks may
not necessarily mean the driver gets good restorative sleep while he or
she is parked. That, too, is a problem.
Parking: Conclusion About Jason's Law
Am I in favor of more safe parking for
commercial motor vehicles?
understand the need.
But am I in favor of Jason's Law? Absolutely
Government-funded truck parking is no guarantee of
safety or a good night's sleep.
Allowing government on any level to enter the truck parking arena
beyond what has already been established is going to open the door for
a multitude of problems beyond even my imagination.
Will the passage of Jason's Law really be the panacea that truckers
need? I am certain that it will not be.
In fact, I predict that the government regulations that
are in place in some locations where
truck parking is
most needed will not automatically be relaxed if Jason's Law is
passed, but rather the
process of reviewing and revising these regulations may turn into a
battleground of indefinite length. Just because the process
long, however, does not mean that the effort should not be expended.
What needs to happen is that government needs to reduce
or eliminate the regulations and prohibitions that prevent private
building commercial truck stops in the places where they are most
needed. That is the solution to more safe parking for large
trucks, not government
Safe Parking Article
The point and question that may arise after reading the
preceding is, "All truckers need are safe
places to park. We may not need all the amenities
commercial truck stops at night. Why won't private businesses invest in
The answer to that should be self-evident, but I'll put
it in the form of a question:
"Are private businesses 'in business' to
make money or lose money?"
The answer, of course, is that private
business is in business to make money (or to earn a return on their
All of the truck parking areas we've seen have no means
private business can make money. Why would business interests
truck parking if they cannot earn anything back out of it?
Now, the point can also be made that some wealthy
philanthropist may decide to donate money toward the building of safe
parking areas for truckers. The problem with this scenario is that the
donation may be a one-time-only deal and there may be no money for
ongoing maintenance. If nothing else, the surface of the truck parking
area would need to be maintained. And there is the same matter of
security as was raised above: who will pay to keep the safe parking
areas truly safe?
It is still better for private businesses to meet the
needs of truckers for truck parking than relying on taxpayer dollars or
hoping for private donations.
[Another update appears below.]
Safe Parking Article
As evidence from the closure of rest areas in Minnesota
when the state government shut down,
what the government
"gives," the government can take away.
I put "gives" in quotes for a reason, because no
government on any level "gives" anything that it does not first "take"
from someone else (usually in the form of taxes).
Please think about that.
You may wish to read these other pages on our site:
from Safe Parking: Will
Jason's Law Fix the Truck Parking Situation? to our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips