Modern Day Slavery: How Truckers Can Save Lives
The United States was ranked as one of the worst places for human trafficking in 2018. It can be hard to believe in our time that human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is still prevalent and thriving throughout our country. There are estimated hundreds of thousands of victims currently being trafficked. The exact victim count is incredibly difficult to obtain, as trafficking organizations work quickly and discretely.
Every state in the United States has had reports of human trafficking. There are areas where trafficking is reported more than others. California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Las Vegas are five "hot spots". The prevalence of human trafficking in these areas are often due to high tourism rates, high levels of homelessness, and an overall high population count.
While it is essential for every citizen to be aware of signs of human trafficking, truck drivers and fleet managers can have a profound role in reporting cases and saving these victims. TMC has joined forces with the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Iowa DOT and Truckers Against Trafficking. Truck drivers often have to stop at rest areas, truck stops, and welcome centers; which unfortunately are "hot spot" areas for prostitution and transactions. These areas often involve high amounts of traffic (more customers), and less locals who are knowledgeable in recognizing the faces of human trafficking.
Truck drivers should understand that children are often more popular victims than adults and to look out for these common warning signs when identifying human trafficking and its victims.
- Someone being controlled by another person (i.e. not in charge of their own belongings such as money)
- Distressed face, looking lost or confused, hesitant and meek-mannered
- Indications of abuse (bruising, cuts, etc.) or drug addiction
Time is of the essence when dealing with a suspected trafficking transaction or sighting. Do not approach traffickers. Immediately notify a truck stop employee or manager and then call 911. After calling law enforcement, the Human Trafficking Hotline is available and staffed all hours of the day, seen days a week. Please provide "actionable information," such as descriptions of cars (make, model, and license plate), the people involved (hair color, approximate age/height/weight), specific times or dates, and the location where the suspicious activity took place.
Traveling to many different areas gives truck drivers a great advantage of being able to spot victims of human trafficking. As truck drivers are alert to the road they travel down, alertness at "hot spot" locations is important in the fight of modern day slavery. With the United States being one of the most trafficked countries, truck drivers can make a difference in many lives by staying alert and knowing the signs.
The Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at: 1-888-373-7888.
Learn more at: truckersagainsttrafficking.org