Nevada Trucking Association’s Actions Combating Human Trafficking

It was one of those lucky moments. Something seemed wrong to an astute truck driver as he observed a teenager in a Michigan truck stop. Turns out the girl and her cousin had been kidnapped while they were taking an ordinary walk to a fast-food restaurant. Their captors forced them into prostitution.

Trusting his instincts, the driver made a phone call. His action that day resulted in 31 arrests and brought down a multi-state sex trafficking ring.

It sounds like an episode of “Law and Order.” Human Trafficking is tailor-made for such crime dramas, and for network news specials like this 2015 production, where ABC’s Diane Sawyer takes aChilling New Look at the subject.

These TV shows are apparent ratings winners. That’s good news and bad news. Public fascination with human trafficking raises awareness. The bad news is, it’s just TV. The viewers enjoy a comfortable distance between the story on the screen and the brutal reality of sex slavery.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, a great time to thank the transportation industry, where drivers have eyes and ears on the problem. Notably, more than 40 percent of reports by truck drivers in recent years involved victims who are minors, like the Michigan truck stop incident.

Many truck drivers have taken formal training offered by Truckers Against Trafficking. TAT has been recruiting and training drivers since 2009. TAT knows that professional drivers are also regulars in some of the spots where human traffickers sell their victims. They use the same roads, rest areas and fueling stations.

Seventeen trucking firms in Nevada are partners with TAT, with more than 1,300 trained drivers from the Silver State. Nationwide, TAT has 1.4 million professional drivers using proven tools and techniques to identify victims and come to their aid.

The next step, we hope, is that the traveling public will become more alert to the problem. TAT’s training is available to anyone. It’s a good idea to know what you’re looking for, but anyone can report a suspicious situation to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), which is run by the Polaris Project.

The trafficking stories you see on television are not gripping fiction. They’re taken straight from ugly criminal enslavement of thousands of youngsters, and others who feel powerless against ruthless people who exploit them.

If you find that difficult to fathom, please take time to learn more about human trafficking – the gritty reality.

The Nevada Trucking Association has partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking and the fight against human trafficking since 2012.