Not a day passes that Hope Rivenburg doesn’t think of Jason.
She sees him in her two young sons and daughter, hears him in their laughter.
Sometimes a certain scent lingers, sparking the memory of him.
It’s been nearly eight years since truck driver Jason Rivenburg was shot to death in his truck at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina.
He’d heard the place was safe. It wasn’t.
That misinformation cost him his life, but it birthed a movement for safe truck parking that resulted in Jason’s Law, legislation that gave rise to the National Coalition on Truck Parking and guaranteed safe parking spaces for truck drivers nationwide.
To date, three new truck stops have been built from the law and a couple other truck stops have been expanded, Hope says. It’s been a slow process.
“Ultimately, I want the parking in place now,” Hope says. “I also know that unfortunately, it takes time.”
Usually it takes 10 years for a bill to pass the U.S. House of Representatives. Jason’s Law passed in a mere three years, in 2012.
During those three years, the Rivenburg family started a petition, called truck stops and lobbied for support any way they could.
“So many people think their voice doesn’t count or they can’t change things, and it’s not true,” Hope says. “I had no political connections, nothing. So if my family can do it, anything is possible.”
With an immense shortage of truck parking spaces, the law is definitely needed.
“Drivers park on the side of the road or in unsafe areas. Law enforcement is having them move,” Hope says. “Drivers park in store parking lots, they have to move. It’s a never-ending cycle.”
On the night of his death, Jason was 12 miles from making his delivery at a distribution center. But most distribution centers don’t allow drivers to stop there early. As a result, Jason had to resort to parking for the night.
“If Jason could have parked at the distribution center, I believe he would be here today,” Hope says. “I think shippers and receivers should get involved with this issue because it’s their freight that’s being moved.”
In the years since Jason’s death, life for the Rivenburgs has gone on. It’s been a rough road. “While you learn to function more on a day-to-day basis, the impact of it never fades,” Hope says. “You never think when your husband goes off to work that it’ll be the last time you see him. But that’s what happened.”
At the time of Jason’s death, the couple had a 2-year-old son and Hope was about to give birth to twins.
Today, her oldest is 9 years old. The twins, now age 7, never got to meet their dad.
“They want to know why there are photos of their brother with daddy but not of them with daddy,” Hope says. “All I can tell them is it wasn’t daddy’s choice.”
In Jason’s absence, Hope’s mom has helped raise the kids—enforcing the rules, attending parent-teacher conferences, helping in any way she can. All three children are in school now. A year-and-a-half ago, Hope started working at the post office near their home in upstate New York. She’s lived in the same town forever, but she’s starting to see the neighborhood in a new light.
Through it all, Hope keeps Jason’s memory alive.
The family hosts gatherings on Father’s Day. On Jason’s birthday, they bring balloons to his grave.
“Our kids need to know how special their father was,” Hope says. “I try to cover all the bases for them. They just want to know ‘why.’”
More needs to be done to implement safe truck parking nationwide. Hope Rivenburg urges truck drivers and others to write to their state Department of Transportation. Ask your DOT officials if they are addressing truck parking in their annual freight management plan and encourage them to do so.
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All photos courtesy of Hope Rivenburg
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