Throughout the holiday season, many people take long road trips to visit family and friends. The week of Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year in the United States, with 54 percent more drivers taking long trips than at any other time of the year. Truck stops and rest stops along heavily populated highways are popular locations for sex traffickers to sell their victims.
Trafficking does take place at government run rest stops, but commercially owned truck stops are the preferred area for traffickers since there are many potential clients in one area, law enforcement is generally not present, and the girls and women can go from truck to truck quickly and easily. Since truck stops are usually located in between towns along the highway, once the trafficker drops off the girls, there is no easy way for them to escape. Truck drivers are in a unique position because human trafficking comes knocking at their doors as the girls or women go to each truck asking the drivers if they want to have sex for money. With an estimated 5,000 truck stops in the US, traffickers have a variety of options and are able to move across state lines making it difficult for law enforcement to catch them. Those selling sex have elaborate codes and terms that they use over the Citizens Band (CB) radio to communicate the race, age, gender and price of the person being offered for sex to the truckers.
Thankfully, organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking are committed to the prevention of human trafficking at truck stops. Truckers Against Trafficking offer training and media awareness campaigns to truck drivers to help them understand that not all the girls and women are selling their bodies consensually. While some are, commercial sex is always trafficking if the person is under the age of 18 and it becomes trafficking for those over 18 when force, fraud, or coercion is present.
During this busy travel season, we urge our readers to be conscious of the sex trafficking happening in the rest stops and truck stops along the major highways in the US. Earlier this year, Human Trafficking Search released a Transportation Industry Toolkit where you can learn more about the issue.