Professional drivers are a cornerstone of our daily lives. Some make sure that there’s food and medicine at the store. Some make sure there’s fuel at the pump. Others transport us safely to our destination. All of them are responsible for saving lives with defensive driving. However, many fulfill a crucial duty in saving lives that often goes unrecognized: preventing human trafficking.
An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders per year. Many are women and children. Most are forced into sex trade. Human trafficking is an issue that plagues communities across the globe, with all 50 states in the U.S. having reported cases of sex trafficking. Our professional drivers are in a unique position to stop it. Organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) and their sister program Busing on The Lookout (BOTL) are at the center of the efforts.
How Does Transportation Intersect With Human Trafficking?
Professional drivers are some of the most likely people to come into contact with human traffickers or victims of human trafficking. Here are three reasons why:
- Human traffickers count on highway systems to transport their victims. They stop at many of the same gas stations and rest stops as truckers, so it’s key that truckers know the warning signs of trafficking.
- People escaping human trafficking often count on bus services to flee to safety.
- Human traffickers often utilize bus services to transport potential victims, usually under the guise of a job opportunity or a romantic interest.
What Can You Do to Help?
As a transportation professional, leader, or company-owner, information is key. You and your employees need to know the warning signs. You need to know who’s at risk. Most importantly, you need to know what to do if you think you’re witnessing an act related to human trafficking. Both Truckers Against Trafficking and Busing On The Lookout offer industry-specific training to help combat human trafficking. If your company adopts these resources as part of your training, you could save someone’s life.
The Harriet Tubman Award
Each year, TAT recognizes transportation professionals in the fight against human trafficking with the Harriet Tubman Award. The award goes to individuals responsible for the apprehension of perpetrators or freedom of victims of human trafficking. We’re proud to say that the 2019 Harriet Tubman Award was given to two employees of our client Coach USA: Larren Tarver, Bus Operator, and Lauren Gnall, District Safety Director of Lakefront Lines.
Tarver and Gnall followed the protocol of the BOTL training perfectly. “Tarver calmly stopped the bus, he reassured the other passengers, while being as inconspicuous as possible about the reasons for the delay. He notified dispatch and triggered an internal response system within the Lakefront Lines Safety Team that swiftly communicated with law enforcement and ensured police were on the scene as quickly as possible. Gnall and a colleague met the bus on the side of the highway almost immediately. Before the bus got back on the road – and safely transported the other passengers to their destination – the suspect was arrested; the alleged victim was recovered; and the case was referred for further investigation.”
Take Action Now
People are abducted and trafficked every day and it’s happening right under your nose. You and your organization can be the difference between someone being trafficked and someone being saved. At the ceremony, Mr. Tarver said,
“The training really helped me in feeling aware and alert of my surroundings. It really opened my senses to be on the look-out for possible dangers to myself and other people. I felt empowered by thinking of the family members of the victim, and if I wouldn’t have acted in the way I did, I would have probably never had a chance later, and the victim could still be in danger til this day...Some red flags that are imprinted in my mind for future situations like this one are to have a sense of all your passengers, look for any discomfort, nervousness, or anything that may seem odd in people acting strangely on my bus. I believe if everyone steps up to the plate and does the right thing, together, we can make a huge difference in the society we live in. I, too, have a daughter. She’s three years of age now but will eventually ride public transportation, and I care for my daughter’s safety 100 percent.”
AvatarFleet has teamed up with TAT and BOTL to provide their training at no cost within our Learning Management System to all customers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions assigning these courses to your drivers. Thank you for your commitment to making the roads and world a safer place.