Most of America will never see the world of human trafficking. Yet, those in the transportation industry are all too aware of this unspoken underworld. In fact, truck drivers are now the first line of defense against this silent epidemic. In 2009, Truckers Against Trafficking formed to educate the transportation industry on human trafficking, and call them to action. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a non-for-profit organization that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking. The TAT knows that truck drivers are truly the ‘everyday heroes’ acting as the eyes and ears of America’s highways. To help fund the TAT cause, there are annual auctions and member supported programs. One of the auctions actually auctions off a brand new truck.
Truckers Against Trafficking estimates there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking in the world today, most of which are being forced to work as slaves in the sex industry where 68% of them are trapped in forced labor. Although the majority of victims are women and girls, 45% of those trafficked are boys and men. The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
At commercially operated truck stops and state operated rest-areas, traffickers are able to easily manurer and conduct business because it is a very transient environment. Two particular forms of sex trafficking that have been identified as operating out of truck stops include pimp-controlled sex trafficking and brothels fronting as licensed massage businesses. Pimp-controlled sex trafficking typically involves traffickers or “pimps” who compel women and/or children into commercial sex where they may use truck stops as an exclusive marketplace or one of many venues to maximize profits. These traffickers often require their victims to meet a daily quota of earnings or face unwanted or potentially violent consequences. The victims are often U.S. citizens who come from diverse backgrounds.
The Truckers Against Trafficking has made it their mission to educate the front-line hero, and make them aware of the hotline to report suspected incidences of trafficking and why it is important to do so. The TAT is starting to get states involved. For example, a bill has been brought forward in the Texas senate that would make it compulsory for anyone looking to attain a commercial vehicle license to undergo a human trafficking awareness course. Legislation to this effect is also in the pipeline in Kansas and Arkansas. In Ohio, state law requires prospective truck drivers who opt into any of its state regulated professional truck driver training programs to complete human trafficking training prior to receiving their Commercial Driver’s License. This is a huge victory for the TAT.