WASHINGTON — The National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), a non-profit association that represents the interests of the less-than truckload motor carrier industry, recently lent its support to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking (TLAHT) as part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which runs through the end of January.
“NMFTA is committed to doing everything in our power to be a source of aid for this cause,” said Debbie Sparks, executive director of NMFTA. “As a leader in the industry, it is our responsibility to contribute resources to help create a solution to this highly problematic trend that we are witnessing and is also impacting the transportation sector. When all companies unite, more can be accomplished, and further insight into this problem will create safer environments for statistically at-risk individuals.”
Last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched its new human trafficking awareness campaign dubbed “Your Roads, Their Freedom.”
The campaign seeks to give the nation’s 8.7 million commercial motor vehicle drivers the information needed to identify and report suspected human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime, and it has no place in the transportation industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson. “But the hard-hitting reality is that our nation’s transportation systems are exploited by human traffickers every day, and FMCSA is working to help stop it.”
According to the DOT, more than 27.6 million women, children and men are trafficked into forced prostitution and labor.
TLAHT notes that it prioritizes five aspects of human trafficking and connects transportation stakeholders to available resources regarding industry training and education, public awareness, policy awareness, information sharing and analysis and industry leadership.
The initiative’s goal, leaders say, is to increase knowledge pertaining to the national crisis and create additional resources to support the efforts of directly combating the issue.
NMFTA’s pledge calls for all participating companies to unite within the transportation industry against human trafficking, Sparks said.
Secondly, all participants pledge to educate their employees and other stakeholders to recognize and report signs of human trafficking.
“This effort will also raise awareness among the traveling public by utilizing common messaging in targeted outreach campaigns and measuring the collective impact on human trafficking by tracking and sharing key data points,” according to NMFTA.
Every year since 2010, the president has dedicated the month to raise awareness about human trafficking and to educate the public about how to identify and prevent this crime. The U.S. Department of State raises awareness of human trafficking domestically and abroad, through U.S. embassies and consulates.
During this month, the nation recognizes the efforts of foreign governments, international organizations, anti-trafficking entities, law enforcement officials, survivor advocates, communities of faith, businesses and private citizens all around the world to raise awareness about human trafficking.
More than 20 years ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) was established.
In 2010, by presidential proclamation, President Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month — and every year since, each president has followed this tradition.
President Biden has proclaimed January 2023 as National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, “reaffirming his administration’s commitment to protect and empower survivors of all forms of human trafficking, to prosecute traffickers, and to bring an end to human trafficking in the United States and around the world,” according to a White House news release. “Since human trafficking disproportionately impacts racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, vulnerable migrants, and other historically marginalized and underserved communities, our mission to combat human trafficking must always be connected to our broader efforts to advance equity and justice across our society.”
As part of Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the annual Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award seeks to raise awareness among transportation stakeholders about human trafficking and increase training and prevention to combat the crime.
The award, which is a component of the TLAHT initiative, “serves as a platform for transportation stakeholders to creatively develop impactful and innovative counter trafficking tools, initiatives, campaigns and technologies that can help stop these heinous crimes,” a DOT news release stated.
The award is open to individuals and entities, including non-governmental organizations, transportation industry associations, research institutions and state and local government organizations.
Entrants compete for a cash award of up to $50,000.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.