There are over 2 million licensed truck drivers across the nation. With truckers on the road—in fact, they’re on pretty much every road—every single day, they have a huge presence on our highways. This puts them in a very powerful position. Passing thousands of cars each day and spending their rest time at truck stops, truckers frequently witness criminal activity, whether it’s illegal drug use, drug trafficking, drivers under the influence, or—the most troubling—human trafficking. Law enforcement agencies and nonprofits alike have recognized this vital fact, and they’re reaching out to truckers in order to educate and encourage them to report what they see. Truck drivers are happily obliging, and they’re saving lives in the process.
In Ohio, state troopers have designed a voluntary training program for truck drivers to illustrate what kinds of criminal activity they may witness during their travels and which tell-tale signs to look out for. Another important aspect of the program is simply to encourage truckers to call in and report their suspicions, no matter how small or how insignificant they may seem. Many truck drivers witness crime every single day and think it’s not a “big enough deal” to call 911. After going through the training program, the drivers reported that they felt much more “relaxed” about calling the police about the things they saw.
The most important thing for truckers to be aware of is human trafficking. Most people assume that human trafficking—essentially, girls being kidnapped and forced into prostitution—is an international problem, something that doesn’t occur here in the USA. Unfortunately, this assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. Right here in America, underage girls are actually kidnapped and forced to sell their bodies (and threatened with death if they don’t). What’s most alarming: the most common destination for these girls is truck stops. They’re forced to walk from cab to cab, knocking on each door, usually dressed in skimpy clothing, offering their services to truck drivers.
Many truck drivers, uneducated about human trafficking, assume the girls are simply prostitutes by choice. But in reality, these girls are trapped, fearing for their lives and doing whatever it takes to survive. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a nonprofit organization created in order to spread awareness in the trucking industry and educate truckers about this horrifying reality. The organization has a hotline open 24/7 for truck drivers to call if they witness any suspected incidents of human trafficking or young girls at truck stops.
In TAT’s informational video, a young woman shares the tale of how she was kidnapped at 15 years old while walking to Wendy’s. She was forced into prostitution and was only saved when a truck driver called 911 after witnessing her going from door to door at a truck stop. Now, thanks to the vigilance of a concerned trucker, she is married with a baby and lives a happy, normal life. Her mother expressed a tearful and grateful thanks to the driver who saved her life, whom they have never met.
If you are in the trucking industry, you can make a difference—share the TAT website with your fellow drivers and coworkers and encourage them to share it as well. Truckers have the power to put a huge dent in the human trafficking industry, but only if armed with the knowledge to do so. Here at Trinity, we fully support the efforts of the TAT to end this disturbing reality, and we encourage and extend our greatest thanks to truck drivers who keep an eye out for crime while on the road. You are heroes in disguise!
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