The Florida Trucking Association and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) are putting a spotlight on human trafficking recognition as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Trucking Association, and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) are focusing on human trafficking – a crime that often hides in plain sight – and the critical role Florida’s trucking and law enforcement professionals play in combating it, in a release sent out from FLHSMV on Tuesday.
Florida’s Highway Heroes initiative is an ongoing outreach campaign that was launched in October 2020 to train Florida’s half a million licensed commercial drivers on how to identify and report suspected human trafficking. Florida’s commercial drivers are uniquely positioned to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who look to use transportation systems for their personal gain. Since the launch of the initiative, FLHSMV has trained nearly 4,600 licensed commercial drivers and nearly 400 FHP members through TAT on how to identify and report suspected trafficking.
“We will not sit idly by as traffickers travel Florida preying on vulnerable people to fuel their illicit practice,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in the release. “We are putting the pedal to the metal to train as many drivers as possible to help steer us toward our goal of ensuring Florida is a zero-tolerance state for human trafficking. There is no one road map that will get us there. Every truck driver in Florida needs to learn the signs, take the wheel, and help us speed toward this vital goal. By doing this, our Highway Heroes will not only make our roads safer, but they could also save the life of a trafficking victim in desperate need of help.”
FLHSMV’s division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will be participating in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative, from Jan. 11 to Jan. 13. As part of the initiative, FHP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) Troopers will be focusing on engaging with commercial motor vehicle drivers by handing out Truckers Against Trafficking’s (TAT) informational wallet cards during roadside inspections and enforcement stops across the state.
“Florida’s 12,000 miles of highway and growing economy present residents and visitors to our state with many opportunities to travel for work and leisure. And while our expansive highway system affords us so much, criminals target our state and exploit our highways to traffic women, men, and children,” FLHSMV Executive Director, Terry L. Rhodes said in the release. “Through our Highway Heroes program, we have enlisted thousands of trucking industry and law enforcement professionals in Florida who are committed to serving as the eyes and ears of our highways. We are grateful for them, and safer because of them.”
Make the Call, Save Lives
When calling to report suspected human trafficking, law enforcement need actionable information to assist them including:
- Descriptions of cars or trucks (make, model, color, license plate, truck and/or USDOT number.) and people (height, weight, hair color, eye color, age.) Take a picture if possible.
- Specific times and dates (When did you see the event in question take place? What day was it?)
- Addresses and locations where suspicious activity took place.
- Be sure to tell them you suspect human trafficking, not prostitution.
Report Human Trafficking
The National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
The U.S. Department of Justice Hotline: 1-888-428-7581
Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
Local Authorities: 911 or *FHP (*347)