(Today's post is a little somber. Regularly scheduled humor will continue on another day.)
I only know about Jason Rivenburg's story because we are in the trucking industry. It's not a story you hear in the regular news. We have been in similar situations with regard to parking. We plan as best we can but sometimes events conspire to put us in a place with few options to park. Hours of service regulations, traffic, stubborn shippers and consignees, over-crowded truck stops and strict city ordinances can all lead to having to park in some questionable places.
On Thursday March 5, 2009 Jason Rivenburg pulled his truck into an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. He had arrived too early to deliver his load of organic milk and was turned away, so he found the closest place to park, twelve miles away, to await his delivery appointment. He never got the chance to deliver the milk.
Jason was shot and killed as he rested in his truck for the $7 in his pocket. Left behind is his wife and three children.
The murderer has been convicted and sentenced to life without parole. In April 2009 House Bill HR2156 was introduced to congress. The Senate followed suit in May with S971. Dubbed Jason's Law it seeks to investigate parking shortages for the trucking industry and allocate money to fix the problem. Here is a summary of the House Bill from www.GovTrack.us
Jason's Law - Directs the Secretary of Transportation to: (1) implement a pilot program to allocate funds to states, metropolitan planning organizations, and local governments that submit an application approved by the Secretary for eligible projects to establish long-term parking facilities for commercial motor vehicles (trucks) on the National Highway System; and (2) give priority to applicants that demonstrate a severe shortage of truck parking capacity and whose proposed projects are likely to have positive effects on highway safety, traffic congestion, or air quality.
Both bills have been assigned to committees, which is government-speak for doing nothing. I'm a skeptic, so I don't know if these bills would do any good if they were passed. My fear is that they are an emotional response to "do something" after such a tragedy. Every law and regulation ends up with unintended consequences and politics usually get in the way of doing anything helpful. I wonder if all the taxes collected, especially from truckers, were spent on the things they were allocated for, we might have safer places to park. Then again, maybe the bills would do some good. At least it puts a spotlight on the problems that millions of truckers face everyday.
My heart goes out to Jason's family. They have made several trips to Washington to tell Jason's story to lawmakers and to help get the bills passed. Good people who are trying to turn a tragedy into something that can help others. That's a story that deserves to be told.
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