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Jason’s Law: Making highways safer for commercial truck drivers with more rest stations

Written by Steve Gursten Posted February 21st, 2013

Law passed as part of the Highway Restoration Bill seeks to build/restore rest stations along popular highways, giving fatigued truckers access to safe rest areas

Jason's Law for more truck stops

Lawmakers recently passed a great piece of legislation that’s going to help save lives. This law addresses a serious problem that affects all motorists in the U.S.: the lack of rest stations for commercial truck drivers.

Our attorneys are always stressing the importance of resting before operating a commercial truck and taking breaks to sleep and eat.  It’s common knowledge that fatigued driving is extremely dangerous and causes truck accidents and preventable deaths.

But sometimes, a large practical problem goes overlooked or unmentioned: there are not an abundance of places for commercial drivers to rest.

This law changes that.

The bill was inspired by tragedy.  In 2009, Jason Rivenburg, a trucker, was out transporting a load.  He was fatigued and did the responsible thing; he pulled over to rest.  There were no rest stations nearby, so Mr. Rivenburg pulled into an abandoned roadside gas station in South Carolina to sleep.  Sadly, while he slept, he was robbed and murdered.

Following the tragedy, interested parties drafted the law.  After three of years of twisting in the winds, the law was finally passed in 2012.  “Jason’s Law,” as it has become known, was included in the Transportation Reauthorization Bill.  The bill provides federal funding (over $6 million) toward the construction and/or restoration of safe roadside parking lots where truckers may rest.  The stations will be placed along highways frequently traveled by commercial operators.  This funding will allow defunct parking options to reopen, as well as create new, safe options.

We can expect to begin seeing the fruits of this bill in the coming months.

Eligible projects include:

  • New dedicated parking areas for commercial drivers;
  • Commercial vehicle parking adjacent to commercial truck stops or travel plazas;
  • Opening existing facilities to commercial vehicle parking;
  • Capital improvements to public commercial vehicle facilities which are closed on a seasonal basis so that they may operate year-round; and
  • Improving access to existing commercial parking facilities.

Not only is this law great for truck drivers, but it is great for everyone who uses the highways. Moving forward, truckers will have safe options available so that they can sleep and rest properly.  They can do the right thing without having to worry about their own safety.  To the general public, the availability of these rest areas means that we can get tired drivers off the road and rested before they hurt somebody.

It is so sad that it took Mr. Rivenburg’s death to get this legislation passed.  However, from this tragedy, something that will benefit the millions of people who travel the highway has emerged, and everyone is a little bit safer.

Here’s more information about the law  and Jason Rivenburg.

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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