Did you know that January being National Human Trafficking Awareness Month? Transportation professionals are in a special position to make a difference and cut traffickers who try to exploit the industry for their own personal gain.
In 2022, it is estimated that there were 24.9 million victims of human trafficking around the world according to the Human Trafficking Institute. Of this, 20.1 million people were victims of labor trafficking; 9.2 million victims were men, and 10.9 million were women, and 3.3 million were children. The other 4.8 million victims are victims of sex trafficking.
There are various associations, such as Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), that educate and equip members of the trucking, bus and energy industries in efforts to combat human trafficking. I highly recommend checking them out and looking into other organizations that can teach you what to do in the event of suspected trafficking.
Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operators have the unique ability to see these situations and make a difference because often times trafficking happens at places that truckers are frequently at. Exploitation of human trafficking victims happen anywhere but very commonly at truck stops, rest stops, shopping centers, hotels, and private homes. Victims are commonly contacted, collected or even sold at these locations. If you are frequently at any of these places it is critical that you learn the signs so that you can make a difference.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking can be described as modern day slavery, whether that is for work or other various exploits people are being used for. Traffickers are known to use force, fraud, and coercion to control and collect their victims. Real-time sales of victims can happen both online and in various locations. These locations often include truck stops, restaurants, rest stops, shopping centers, hotels, and private homes.
A suspicious vehicle parked unusually or out back with the trucks, potentially with people coming and going from it.
People going in and out of a hotel/motel room for 15-30 minutes intervals and then spending the night in their cab.
A car driving to a cab of a truck, dropping someone off an coming back in within 30 minutes to pick the person up.
CB chatter about "commercial company" or exchange of "roses" for a date or flashing lights signaling “buyer” location.
Seeing a potential victim who:
has another person controlling their identification documents
has a lack of understanding of their whereabouts or itinerary
has restricted or controlled communication – not allowed to speak for oneself or looks to another to answer questions for them
shows any acknowledgment that they have a pimp and is meeting a quota
signs of branding or tattooing signifying ownership
How You Can Take Action
Report a Tip
If you believe that you have witnessed the signs of a human trafficking situations, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888) and report a tip. If you are to witness a crime in progress, please call 911.
Warning: Please do not approach traffickers.
If you witness what you believe to be a trafficking incident, report the tip and allow law enforcement to deal with the situation and recover the victims. Approaching traffickers could be dangerous for you and their victims, and can lead to problems in the prosecution of traffickers.
Spread the Word
Talk to your fellow drivers about the signs of trafficking, this will allow more people to be on guard and potentially save people from enslavement. You can also help by spreading awareness of TAT and their resources with your co-workers and peers.
As a professional driver, it is imperative that you become educated today on the signs of human trafficking and what you to do if you suspect it is happening around you. As a company, you can register your organization as TAT Trained once you and your drivers have been certified. Anyone desiring to become certified may do so by watching the TAT training video and passing a short quiz. TAT offers this at NO COST for their official certificate program.
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Until then, make sure to check out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months we plan on releasing Designated Employer Representative, and Appendix A.
Stay Off The Radar!