Just starting out, the average truck driver can expect to bring home about $38,000 dollars a year before tax. The minimum age to drive is 21 years old, and if they feel like the truck driving industry is not meeting their needs, they are welcome to try something else. To contrast, the average human trafficking victim makes no money at all (anything she gets goes to her pimp) and can be even younger than 12 years old. She is trapped in absolutely deplorable conditions and treated lower than an animal. One field is the backbone of the U.S. economy, the other, one of the fastest growing illegal operations in the world.
The average person, unaware of the details of either industry, may not see how these two fields could have anything in common, but truck drivers understand the connection and are stepping up to put an end to this barbaric affront to human rights.
Truck drivers are in a prime position to help end human trafficking, because they are some of the people most likely to witness it. It is not a strange occurrence for a truck driver to hear a quiet tap on his cab door and see a young woman (or girl) offering sexual services at a truck stop. Some truck drivers are also propositioned to transport slaves across the U.S. for money.
Where Truckers Really Help
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a non-profit organization that assists members of the trucking industry in fighting against this illegal behavior. Through special training materials, truckers understand how to notice this activity and who to report it to. TAT also partners with law enforcement and truck stops around the U.S. to further the fight against human trafficking. South Dakota and Nevada are the most recent states to partner their trucking associations, government authority, and protective services with TAT.
Although this operation is only a few years old, TAT has seen some major success. For starters, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) has ranked the trucking industry as 7th in the nation for reporting possible human trafficking incidents. In 2012, NHTRC reported almost 200 calls from truck drivers reporting suspected human trafficking activity. Another success came in the form of recognition from the United Nations. The UN has noticed the impact from the trucking industry and included it in the 100 best practices to combat human trafficking.
Think this is a worthy cause and want to get involved? Here are the next steps you can take:
- Check out http://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/ to download wallet cards and posters, and the phone app.
- Bring in TAT training materials to your trucking company or driving school.
- Make note of useful questions to ask suspected victims of human trafficking: Can you leave your job when you want to? Are you threatened if you want to leave? Did anyone take your identification from you?
- Be aware of your surroundings at truck stops. Notice things like a man walking young girls to various truck cabs, or a man watching young women make rounds.
Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry that cannot be defeated overnight, but with the nation’s highways armed with the knowledge to fight it, helpless young men and women can be saved one call at a time.
If you suspect human trafficking, please call the national hotline at 888-373-7888.
Tags: Human Trafficking
, Truckers Against Trafficking
, Trucking Life