Representatives from the transportation industry met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Thursday, Nov. 15, to develop a plan to combat human trafficking.
Worldwide, there are an estimated 20 million victims of human trafficking and between 100,000 to 300,000 victims in the United States. In September, President Obama instructed his administration to increase its efforts to combat human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.
Laura O’Neill, director of government affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, represented small-business truckers at the roundtable discussion on Thursday.
“Because some of the trafficking occurs at truck stops or rest areas, our members are on the front lines. And we are doubling-down on our efforts to help educate the trucking community and combat human trafficking,” O’Neill told Land Line on Thursday.
O’Neill said industry leaders will continue to meet and dialogue about ways to stop human trafficking. She said LaHood urged the transportation industry to adopt and develop a training program for employees on how to spot human trafficking.
OOIDA is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that educates, equips and mobilizes members of the trucking and travel plaza industry, to combat human trafficking. Many OOIDA members have called the TAT national hotline at 888-373-7888 to report possible human trafficking incidents after receiving a TAT wallet card. The cards are available at OOIDA headquarters and also on OOIDA’s tour truck, “The Spirit of the American Trucker.”
“We have always been supportive of TAT and will continue to do so,” O’Neill said. “Now there is an industry-wide dialogue to combat human trafficking, in addition to the government prioritizing it.