The state of Wisconsin could soon be added to the growing list of states across the country to call on professional drivers to help curb human trafficking.
The Wisconsin Assembly voted unanimously to advance a bill to the Senate to mandate that prospective truck drivers receive training on trafficking prevention. Specifically, a course would be incorporated into driver training for individuals applying for a Wisconsin commercial driver’s license.
The course would teach students how to identify and report trafficking.
At a recent Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee hearing, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, told committee members that the state has “an unfortunate and appalling distinction” as a national human trafficking hub.
“Given that truck drivers are literally where the rubber meets the road where human trafficking occurs along our highways, they can and do play a critical role in identifying and preventing traffickers who create victims through the exploitation of our transportation system,” Johnson testified.
“Truck drivers are on the front line,” Kleefisch added.
The bill, AB540, awaits additional consideration in the Senate Universities and Technical Colleges Committee.
In addition to Wisconsin, state officials nationwide have been busy in recent years acting to combat sex trafficking. At least 28 states, and Washington, D.C., have adopted at least in part a statewide model created by the Iowa Motor Vehicle Enforcement/Department of Transportation to use weigh stations, ports of entry, rest stops, and state patrols to get the word out about trafficking.
In July 2016 Ohio became the first state to implement mandatory training via Truckers Against Trafficking.
TAT is a nonprofit organization that educates trucking and travel plaza industry members on domestic sex trafficking. The group touts 300,000 trucking industry members registered as TAT trained through their website.
All new commercial drivers in Ohio are provided a one-hour training program. Every driver issued a CDL in the state is also given a TAT wallet card that contains information on how to report a tip to law enforcement when suspecting human trafficking activities.
One effort at the federal level also address concerns about trafficking. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is behind a bill to designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The legislation would also incentivize training at the federal level. Training would not be mandated.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Wisconsin, click here.
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