NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings and Chairman of the Board Delia Moon Meier expressed disappointment with ABC’s upcoming network series “Big Sky” in a recent letter to ABC executives.
NATSO’s leadership said in a Nov. 10 letter that the series, which depicts a truck driver as a serial killer and truckstops as places where women disappear, is rooted in false stereotypes about truck drivers and truckstops, offending the professional men and women who have heroically served the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year, the media’s coverage of the role of truck drivers during the pandemic has fostered greater public understanding of the importance of the trucking industry,” the letter states. “Many drivers feel a sense of well-deserved pride in their profession, making your unfair portrayal of professional drivers and truck stops particularly ill-timed.”
In recent months, truck stops and travel plazas have been declared “essential businesses” by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and employees have worked around the clock to ensure that the nation’s truck drivers had places to stop for food, fuel and rest.
NATSO said the series also undermines the industry’s decade-long initiative to combat human trafficking that takes place along the Interstate Highway System.
The industry has trained hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide to spot and report suspected incidents of human trafficking. It also has developed industry training materials and a national public awareness campaign to educate the public about this crime. The industry further coordinates with state and local law enforcement and federal agencies.
Through its alliance with the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign, for example, the NATSO Foundation provides the DHS Blue Campaign’s training and awareness materials – including posters, handouts and other materials — to the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas.
The NATSO Foundation developed the industry’s own online course so that truckstops and travel plazas can train their employees to spot and report suspected incidents of human trafficking.
Among its many partnerships, NATSO works closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigations as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to issue alerts for children considered to be at high risk for trafficking.
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