By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer
A truck stop in Oklahoma City made headlines recently after a judge ordered the owners to crack down on their prostitution problem or face being shut down.
While Oklahoma City police investigators told Land Line recently that human trafficking was not a factor at that particular truck stop, it’s on the rise at an alarming rate at truck stops around the country.
Many drivers admit they are annoyed by the “lot lizards” who knock on their doors, waking them up from their critical rest periods, sometimes several times a night. But few complain to truck stop managers or employees while they are parked and just head back out on the road because they don’t want the hassle.
One organization, Truckers Against Trafficking – or TAT – and Chapter 61 Ministries is urging truck drivers to be a voice and get involved in the critical fight against human trafficking. TAT estimates that between 200,000 and 300,000 individuals are being trafficked in the U.S. each year, many forced to work as sex slaves at truck stops.
TAT’s new training video, produced by iEmpathize, a nonprofit advocacy group, seeks to educate the trucking community and the travel plaza industry about recognizing the signs of human trafficking. The organization urges truckers to make a call to their national hotline number at 888-373-7888 if they suspect human trafficking.
The video features interviews with the “FBI, a prosecuting attorney and truckers who have seen human trafficking taking place on their routes,” according to the TAT website.
The video also features the story of a trafficking victim. She and her cousin were rescued from a truck stop because of a call made by a trucker after being kidnapped and forced into the sex slave industry while walking to a fast-food restaurant in Toledo, OH.
One of TAT’s goals includes getting wallet cards with their hotline number and information “in the hands of every trucker in America.” Other goals include having their videos made part of the orientation programs for “all truck stop and travel plaza employees, all students of private and public trucking schools” and having their posters in all truck stops, rest areas and trucking company break rooms “across the United States.”
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