Human trafficking has been a hot topic in the news lately, but it’s been a persistent issue for centuries. Even with an unsettling 40 million victims of human trafficking, countless individuals are still blinded to the matter. Unfortunately, truck drivers see it occurring in plain sight. In hopes to build awareness of the ongoing problem with human trafficking, January was named National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. We encourage you to take a look at how you can participate this month.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings through force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex or forced labor. The following information is from dosomething.org and Truckers Against Trafficking.
- Globally, human trafficking brings in $150 billion a year for traffickers.
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline received more calls from California than any other state followed by Texas and Florida.
- 2,692 of those calls made to NHTH were by truck drivers.
- About 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines.
- 1,296 human trafficking victims have been identified by the transportation industry.
Truckers Against Trafficking
Truck drivers have shown they are in business to save lives. Truckers Against Trafficking was established in 2009 to empower the trucking, bus and energy industries to take a public stand against human trafficking. Currently, 1,014,367 truck drivers have completed their Certified Trucker Against Trafficking program. Over the years, TAT has received recognition from the U.S. Congress and the United Nation’s 100 Best Practices list for their dedicated success. Plus, they have partnered with numerous motor carriers, trucking industry associations, government transportation agencies, truck stops, travel plazas and law enforcement.
Hero of the Highway
Millions of truck drivers have become the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, like Kevin Kimmel. In 2015, Kimmel saved a woman from modern-day slavery. At the time, he was pulling into a truck stop to sleep, and saw a distraught young woman through the darkened window of an RV. He decided things didn’t look right and called local law enforcement. When the police arrived, they found the 20-year-old woman malnourished and frightened. The woman had been kidnapped two weeks prior, and because of Kimmel, she is free.
Drivers Encouraged to Participate in #WearBlueDay
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized on January 11. The Blue Campaign, a public awareness campaign created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, hosts several events and educational activities. One of their largest initiatives is #WearBlueDay. To participate, take a photo of yourself dressed in blue and share your photo on social media with the hashtag #WearBlueDay. If you’re looking for other creative ways to raise awareness you can view their full list here or take a look at how other truck drivers have helped combat human trafficking.
3 Ways Truck Drivers Can Make a Difference
- Get Certified. If you’ve received your CDL training, join Truckers Against Trafficking’s army of transportation professionals working to disrupt human trafficking. The Truckers Against Trafficking test is free for all truck drivers. You can get certified online or see if your organization offers training.
- Follow your instincts. Call or text the National Human Trafficking Hotline to report a tip if you ever believe you may have information about a trafficking situation.
- Don’t turn a blind eye. If you witness any suspicious activity notify the truck stop employee or call local law enforcement.