The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is launching a new annual human trafficking awareness initiative in the United States and Canada. The U.S. Human Trafficking Awareness Day will run from Jan. 11-13, 2022.
The initiative is used as an outreach effort to spread awareness and educate commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers and the general public about human trafficking.
According to the International Labor Organization, an estimated 24.9 million men, women and children are enslaved in human trafficking worldwide. With this in mind, the primary goal of this initiative is to help individuals identify the signs of human trafficking and know what to do if they suspect that someone is being trafficked on the roadways.
Reporting Human Trafficking
It’s common for human traffickers to transport their victims on the roadways. As such, individuals who suspect human trafficking is taking place on the road are asked to provide as many details as possible when reporting. This includes vehicle characteristics (e.g., make, model and color), license plate numbers and driver descriptions, among others.
It is important for individuals to report any suspicious activities. Individuals should watch for a discreet hand gesture someone may give to let them know they need help. This hand gesture can be described as fingers facing up with a tucked thumb or fingers lowered over the thumb. It is crucial to recognize this gesture and report it upon seeing it.
Know the Signal for Help
The “Signal for Help” gesture was initially developed by the Canadian Women’s Foundation in April 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way for domestic violence victims to silently show they need help on a video call. But as a result of social media exposure, the hand sign’s meaning has broadened to signify ‘distress’ and ‘need of rescue.’
Ways to Participate
CVSA is offering human trafficking awareness resources and working with other organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking to provide tools to its members.
These resources remind individuals what to do when they suspect someone is being trafficked. Such tools include a national hotline to report trafficking cases and information on key warning signs and response methods.
If drivers and motor carriers are interested in participating further, they should reach out to their state’s CMV safety department to learn more about preventing human trafficking.