According to Human Rights First, human trafficking is a $150 billion per year business, with approximately $99 billion attributed to commercial sexual exploitation. Recognizing that human trafficking has reached epidemic proportions, many trucking companies are now fighting back by teaching their drivers how to identify cases of it on the road.
Human traffickers are constantly moving their victims in an effort to stay one step ahead of the law. Many of them will eventually pass through places that truckers often frequent such as rest areas and truck stops. With more than 3.5 million truckers on the road, this means there is virtually an army out there that can effectively serve as additional eyes and ears for law enforcement.
A non-profit group known as Truckers Against Trafficking is leading the charge, providing training that will help professional drivers identify possible cases of human trafficking and then take action. Obtaining certification is voluntary, at least for now. Legislation that would make human trafficking awareness mandatory for all CDL applicants is currently pending in Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas.
Training such as that offered by TAT might do more than just enable truckers to spot trafficking, as it may also change attitudes. The grim reality is that prostitutes often operate at truck stops because there is a demand for them. Officials hope that by making truckers more aware of sex trafficking, they will be less likely to look at prostitution as a victimless crime.
Even experts on human trafficking agree that getting truckers involved is not enough to solve the problem. Even so, it is nonetheless important, and has already proven to be an effective way to identify instances of trafficking that might otherwise have escaped authorities.