The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has announced it has joined together with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to raise awareness about human trafficking among professional truck drivers, the trucking industry and the travel plaza industry, and to educate them on how they can help fight against the crime.
“There are over 3.1 million truck drivers who travel over 408 billion miles each year,” said ATA Chairman Dan England, chairman of C.R. England, Salt Lake City. “We are asking our motor carriers to include this important information in their training programs and to work with their customers and communities to help combat the problem.”
Human trafficking is a $32-billion worldwide industry with more than 27 million people enslaved, he noted.
It has been reported in all 50 states. The Department of Justice estimates between 100,000 and 300,000 children are at risk every year to traffickers in the United States and that many children, teens and young women are sold into the sex trade.
While illegal, human trafficking - a term for modern-day slavery - is a booming business, second only to drug trafficking.
Truckers are “the eyes and ears of the nation’s highways, and with knowledge and guidance, they can make a big difference and save lives,” said England.
A nonprofit, TAT (truckersagainsttrafficking.org) has developed our trucking-industry-specific training that it would like to see made part of orientation for truck stop and travel plaza employees, students of private and public truck-driving schools, truck drivers employed by major carriers and owner operators, said Kendis Paris, national director of Truckers Against Trafficking.
The organization is also partnering with law enforcement to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking.
A number of ATA affiliates already work closely with TAT, including state trucking associations in California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin.
TA/Petro began to work with TAT more than a year and a half ago, said the company’s George Jacobson. Workers have received training in human trafficking and are handing out training materials.
“Traffickers are continually moving their victims from place to place, for a variety of reasons, along our nation’s highways and roads,” Paris said. “They ‘sell’ their victims at truck stops, travel plazas and rest stops because they’re convenient; transient populations frequent them who are less likely to “rescue” the victims; they have to use them anyway to buy gas and eat; and it’s easy money and a good way to break in their victims for other things.”
By joining with TAT, ATA hopes to not only raise awareness of this problem, but to educate the industry on what to look for if they suspect a human trafficking incident, what specific information is needed for local law enforcement and to how to report any suspicions.
Anyone who suspects human trafficking is asked to call the national human trafficking hotline number - 1-888-373-7888 – or 911 for emergency situations.