NATSO Foundation President Lisa Mullings on Jan. 17 told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security that the truckstop and travel plaza industry plays a vital role in combating human trafficking that takes place along the nation’s Interstate Highway System. NATSO was invited to participate as an example of the positive role that the private sector can play in the fight against human trafficking.
“As an industry, our primary goal was not only to rally behind an important cause but also to have a real impact,” said Mullings. “The multi-faceted approach taken by the truckstop and travel plaza industry illustrates that private enterprise can make a consequential difference in the fight against human trafficking. When companies take the time to learn about it and invest resources into combatting it, it can make a real difference in changing lives for the better. We thought it was important for Congress to know this.”
Mullings briefed the House Homeland Security Committee about the multi-pronged anti-human trafficking initiative undertaken by the NATSO Foundation on behalf of the entire truckstop and travel plaza industry.
Specifically, Mullings cited the NATSO Foundation’s partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to distribute public awareness materials that truckstops can post in their locations.
As an industry that caters to millions of travelers every year, truckstops and travel plazas and their employees are in a key position to help identify and report suspected incidents of human trafficking. Although there is no official estimate for the total number of U.S. human trafficking victims, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of adults and minors are victims of human trafficking each year in the United States — many of whom are moved from state to state along our Interstate Highway System.
“Our partnership with DHS and the law enforcement community helps ensure that the millions of Americans who stop at truckstops and travel plazas nationwide are educated about human trafficking and able to assist in the transportation sector’s fight against this crime,” Mullings said.
The NATSO Foundation has been helping members of the truckstop and travel plaza community engage in the fight against human trafficking since 2012. The NATSO Foundation’s goal is to provide the truckstop and travel plaza industry with the necessary tools to train owners, operators and employees so that those individuals are equipped to help if they encounter a victim of this horrible crime.
The NATSO Foundation provides the industry with an online education course titled, “The Role of Truckstops in Combating Human Trafficking” to help truckstops and travel plazas train their staff in recognizing and responding to suspected incidents of human trafficking. The course is available on the NATSO Foundation’s website free of charge so that any member of the truckstop and travel plaza industry can leverage this educational resource. The course can be accessed at www.natso.com/onlinelearning.
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