Feb 2, 2024 — Daniel Bowman

“Lot Lizards” in Trucking: How Trucking Recruiters Can Prevent Trafficking in the Trucking Industry

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

photo of two trucks for human trafficking prevention article

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, yet the fight to prevent human trafficking is a continuous effort year-round within the trucking industry.

As a recruiter or trucking company, it is important to understand the devastating impact of human trafficking and the vital role truck drivers play in its prevention throughout the industry.

Defining Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a widespread issue affecting millions globally, trapping individuals through force, fraud, or intimidation for forced labor and sexual exploitation.

The International Labour Organization estimates 40.3 million global victims, with hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children victimized in the United States alone. The physical and mental toll on them is profound, leading to enduring trauma and societal stigmatization.

The Importance of Education in Prevention

To work to prevent human trafficking, trucking recruiters can inform and educate truckers and carriers on trafficking and the best ways to protect victims while out on the road. A public statement and active efforts to work with other organizations toward prevention is a starting point. By understanding the struggles victims face, communities, including the trucking industry, can better intervene. This fosters an environment where survivors can safely come forward to seek assistance.

Key Observers in Trafficking Prevention

Recruiters should be keenly aware that truck drivers, sitting uniquely in the transportation network, can play a crucial role in human trafficking prevention. They frequent stops at various locations nationwide. This allows them to observe the crime and report it to protect the persons involved. This will allow the federal agencies to focus on pursuing the matter to the full extent of the law.

One national association, Truckers Against Trafficking, has made efforts to train drivers to identify and respond to human trafficking. This has disrupted traffickers and potentially rescued human trafficking victims.

Identifying “Lot Lizards”

Lot lizards” is a colloquial term that derogatorily refers to sex workers who operate around truck stops. It’s essential, however, to approach this issue with sensitivity and respect. Understand that these individuals are victims of human trafficking. They are individual persons, men, women, and children, that traffickers manipulate, control, and force into the commercial sex industry.

This underscores enslavement not as a choice but as a consequence of coercion. It necessitates a compassionate response aimed at the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected individuals.

Training Programs for Truck Drivers

One crucial focus of intervention in potential trafficking situations involves the ability to discern between individuals who may be working as ‘lot lizards’ under the coercion of a trafficker.

Truck driver recruiters should make efforts to educate themselves and potential truck driver candidates. Through this, they learn to be observant of cues such as signs of distress, fear, or reluctance when interacting with truck stop visitors. Some of the signs that your drivers will learn about are the consistency of presence at different times or over several days, particularly if accompanied by a controlling individual, which could be a red flag. It is also important for truckers to be attentive to any references to a quota or branding tattoos.

Using this knowledge, trained truck drivers can report suspected trafficking activities to the federal authorities. if you are a carrier, you may want to consider adding a human trafficking prevention section to your onboarding procedures.

Policies for Reporting

When drivers suspect trafficking, personal safety and the safety of potential victims are paramount. To assist in trafficking prevention, ensure that your drivers should maintain a safe distance. They must avoid direct confrontations while reporting details such as physical descriptions and vehicle information to authorities through national hotlines or law enforcement contacts.

Support for Victims

Initiatives such as national human trafficking prevention month in January are just a start to helping to protect the vulnerable. Outreach services extend far beyond January.

Organizations dedicated to this cause provide shelters, legal assistance, health and medical care, psychological counseling, and job training. This helps build individual connections with the vulnerable as well as build community resilience. Recruiters and trucking companies working to prevent human trafficking can partner with such organizations. At the very least, donations and funding will be put to good use.

These groups with a human services theme often work to activate connections and build sturdy networks, offering a society of support that empowers survivors to regain control of their lives. An essential part of their mission is to advocate for survivors’ rights and help to give them a voice. It ensures that their experiences are heard and used to fuel positive change in public perception of this national slavery issue.

Moving Forward

truck stop photo for human trafficking prevention blog

As we continue to confront the realities of human trafficking, you can contribute to the collective action against this crime. National human trafficking prevention month is a start. Recruiters, truckers, and trucking companies can work towards human trafficking prevention by educating themselves and their drivers on the indicators of trafficking and by staying informed.

Public spaces, workplaces, and communities can develop protocols and partnerships with law enforcement and anti-trafficking organizations, creating an integrated approach to vigilance and reporting. Moreover, recruiters play a crucial role by advocating for transparency in supply chains and supporting businesses that take a stand against labor exploitation. Collectively, our vigilance can manifest in supporting legislation that protects those affected and punishes offenders, affirming our society’s commitment to eradicating human trafficking.

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