Lexi Higgins, from Busing on the Lookout (BOTL), made a presentation regarding the organization’s mission at the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) Town Hall on Feb. 16. She described the scope of the problem and how bus and motorcoach companies and their drivers can help intercede in human trafficking.
“UMA has always been a great supporter of our program, and we have a lot of great partners who have come out of that partnership,” Higgins said.
Busing on the Lookout is a program of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), which equips and empowers members of the bus industry to combat human trafficking in their everyday jobs. TAT has been working for over a decade to educate and equip its members on human trafficking and how to combat it as they work.
Drivers interact with passengers
“We started working with truck drivers for a couple of reasons. They are the eyes and ears of our roads and highways,” said Higgins. “We realized that the same holds for the bus industry, and perhaps even more so because bus industry drivers interact with passengers daily. Survivors of human trafficking have shared that they use buses to move to and from where they are being sold.”
She learned from one law enforcement officer in New York City, who was called to the scene by a bus driver concerned about two young teenagers loitering in the restricted section of a bus terminal. They were trying to flee their trafficker and return home to Pennsylvania, who had groomed one of the girls over the internet as her boyfriend.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the best-known form of human trafficking is for the purpose of sexual exploitation, however, hundreds of thousands of victims are trafficked for the purposes of forced labor, domestic servitude, child begging or removal of their organs.
No-cost training available
Drivers come across and often share locations where human trafficking takes place, and drivers that have received training can often intervene in a positive way.
Company owners and managers interested in having their drivers receive the no-cost training can contact Lexi Higgins at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/bus-training.
“Motorcoach drivers are in a unique position to observe suspicious activity,” said Ken Presley, UMA Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO. “Every company should provide at least basic exposure and training in what to look for regarding security and trafficking.”