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CDL truck driving students learn how to combat human trafficking in MCC program

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Human trafficking can happen anywhere. Transporting people against their will, usually women and children, via major highway and interstate systems is common for human traffickers.

The Commercial Driver’s License Truck Driving program at Metropolitan Community College is trying to combat human trafficking by teaching students and faculty the warning signs and how they can help. 

The College has implemented a certification program into its curriculum called “Truckers Against Trafficking.” The national program trains truckdrivers what to be aware of when they are at truck stops and on the road, to help stop human traffickers and save lives. 

The Omaha metropolitan area can attract human traffickers, instructor Kim Martin said, because of large interstate systems and national events that attract families and new people to the city.

“The big corridors, such as Interstate 29 and Interstate 80, are a great place for [traffickers] to do their business,” Martin said. “We talk a lot about the College World Series, Berkshire Hathaway weekend and the Olympic Trials as events they go to. Truck drivers are aware and trained in these situations to know what to look for.”

Martin said that MCC CDL students and staff are required to become TAT-certified. They must watch a training video and take a quiz to show they understand the seriousness of human trafficking and what to look for on the road. They are also given bumper stickers that have the National Human Trafficking Hotline on them to display on the back of trucks.

Spotting human trafficking on the road and at truck stops means looking for telltale signs, Martin said.

 “But there is a lot of little keys. They often drive cars like huge Lincoln Navigators or an RV. You may see a lot of younger girls or children in a car with one adult man as the driver. If you see a kid riding in the front passenger seat, that isn’t right. If a little kid isn’t in school, something is wrong,” Martin explained.

Truckdrivers learn different codes, such as a specific Morse Code-type flash of their headlights, or putting a sign in their truck windows to alert one another. They are also told to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-888-373-7888. If the situation seems extremely urgent, they call 911 for immediate help.

Having trained truckdrivers, as well as police officers, bus drivers and taxi drivers, is extremely important to help save lives, Martin said. 

“We hope they are aware of their surroundings at all times,” he said. “But if they can figure out and be trained what to look for, it is going to put a hurt on {traffickers].”