When 35-year-old trucker Jason Rivenburg pulled his rig off the interstate on March 5 for some rest, he may have been thinking about the wife and three kids back home in New York. Or perhaps about the twins he and his wife were expecting. He probably wasn’t thinking this would be his last day alive, or that he’d be shot twice in the head, killed for the $7 he carried at the time.
Willie Pelzer, III, of North Carolina, told an open court he killed Rivenburg for money to buy drugs. Rivenburg’s truck was found days later off I-26 at an abandoned gas station. Pelzer was given a life sentence in prison with no parole.
New York lawmakers are hoping Rivenburg’s death will leave more of a legacy than the life-without-parole sentence Pelzer received on Dec. 4.
“If we are going to require truck drivers to get a needed amount of rest in the course of their workday to protect themselves and other motorists, than it makes sense that we partner with local governments and private companies to provide enough safe, secure areas to park,” said New York congressman Paul Tonko.
Tonko introduced “Jason’s Law” in the House of Representatives, legislation that would make available $20 million per year for a six-year pilot program aimed at improving safety for truckers. Tonko is joined by Alaska Rep. Don Young in support of the measure. Sen. Charles Schumer, also of NY, who has sponsored a senate version of Jason’s Law, co-sponsored by New York’s other senator, Kirsten Gillenbrand. The initiative is currently in committee.
Through the “Jason’s Law” grants, private companies and local municipalities could receive funding to help alleviate the critical truck parking shortages nationwide. The measure is intended to address several safety and security issues, including: constructing truck-accessible rest areas and parking facilities near truck stops; making existing inspection areas, weigh stations and park-and-ride spots available for truck parking; creating truck turnouts along the country’s highways; funding improvements to seasonally closed facilities; and making the trucking community aware of private and public truck parking availability.