Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, so it's a good time to highlight the trucking industry's efforts to fight the use of young women who are treated as sex slaves, often in the truckstops of rest areas and truckstops frequented by truckers.
2012 was the turning point for the industry to really get behind this effort.
In November, I wrote on this blog and in my HDT editorial about how a phone call can change lives.
Human trafficking, a term for modern-day slavery, is a $32 billion worldwide industry with more than 27 million people enslaved. It's not just a foreign problem. It has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.
Traffickers move their victims along major trucking routes and highways to keep them from getting too familiar with the people who use/buy them. They stop at gas stations, truckstops and rest areas. If truckers are trained to spot signs of human trafficking, they can call a national hotline, which will in turn alert FBI and local police.
A few years ago, a group called Truckers Against Trafficking
decided to tackle this problem head-on. TAT offers a training video, posters that fleets can display, wallet-sized cards for truckers with a national trafficking hotline number to call, 1-888-373-7888.
State trucking associations such as the California Trucking Association and the Colorado Motor Carriers Association have signed on to the effort. The American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association this year announced their official partnerships with TAT.
Truckstops have signed on to the effort as well, with the Iowa 80 Truckstop and TravelCenters of America's TA and Petro travel centers supporting TAT. In fact, TA has been distributing trafficking education and awareness materials since May 2011, and has trained all of its employees on the red flags of human trafficking.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center has reported that between December 7, 2007, and October 30, 2012, 469 calls were received from truckers suspecting trafficking incidents. More than 200 of those calls were received in 2012 alone.
If you don't have one already, mark today by visiting the Truckers Against Trafficking website
and see what you can do. If you're a fleet, that may be downloading posters to put in driver breakrooms and ordering a DVD to use in driver training. If you're a driver, it may mean watching the video online and downloading a wallet card for your own personal use, so you know who to call if you see something suspicious.
You could help a young girl get her life back.