Truck drivers in the Mile High State are being enlisted in the war against human trafficking. A new law passed by the Colorado legislature will require applicants for commercial drivers licenses in the state to go through a course educating them on how to spot signs of human traffickers and their victims.
According a report in the Denver Post, lawmakers and advocacy groups hope that, with more trained eyes on the road, law enforcement will have a helping hand in stopping sex and labor trafficking.
“It just heightens awareness, and it shows you how you can be part of the solution,” said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Drivers have long been considered a key force in combatting human trafficking, and the Denver office pf Truckers Against Trafficking has fully supported the bill as it became law. “We have come to recognize that it’s a useful tool if wielded well,” Kendis Paris, who heads the Denver-based Truckers Against Trafficking, told the Post. “It’s turning bystanders into a disruptive force, in essence.”
Truckers Against Trafficking says that since its start in 2009, there have been nearly 2,000 trucker calls to a national human-trafficking hotline, shedding light on about 545 likely cases of human trafficking involving more than 1,000 victims. The advocacy group has trained nearly a half-million people.
“It’s my understanding that the majority of sex-trafficking cases and labor-trafficking cases are identified by members of the public,” said state Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora, who co-sponsored the legislation. “And those members of the public include truckers. Truckers tend to be at places where people come in and out of — motels, truck stops and gas stations. They see a lot of things.”
The trucking industry has supported the measure as well, with many fleets voluntarily teaching their drivers how to spot traffickers on the highway. “It was really something that a lot of our companies and drivers have embraced,” said Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, an industry group. “It’s like having an army of additional eyes and ears out there to be monitoring this.”
Several states have passed similar laws, which passed the Colorado legislature with limited opposition.