By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S.DOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao Jan. 28 announced a series of efforts to combat human trafficking in the transportation sector. Among the initiatives is the “Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking” pledge to train the transportation-related workforce in recognizing the signs of possible human trafficking and reporting them to law enforcement. Secretary Chao noted that about 250  associations, companies, unions and other entities across all modes had committed to training a total of over one million employees as part of this program.

ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer signed the pledge on behalf of the association, which will work with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to provide training opportunities and materials for its members on this topic. Traffickers use all modes of transportation to move their victims, including public transit due to its low cost, greater anonymity in buying fare cards, and less direct interaction with government or transit officials. The Interstate Highway System, as well as its commercial and rest areas, are also commonly used in perpetration of these crimes. As part of the U.S.DOT event, FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason moderated a session on fighting human trafficking within the freight network, and recognized ARTBA for its willingness to assist in this effort.

Chao also announced $5.4 million in grant selections through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Human Trafficking Awareness and Public Safety Initiative. And she established an annual $50,000 award to incentivize individuals and entities, including transportation industry associations, research institutions, and state and local government organizations, to think creatively in developing innovative solutions to combat human trafficking in the transportation industry.

PHOTO: FHWA Administrator Nicole Nason, at podium, moderated a session on fighting human trafficking within the freight network.