Truck Stops and Trafficking

TATThroughout 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 on the road 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. During these heavily traveled times, traffickers drive in girls and women from all different locations to generate more business with the influx of motor traffic.

Truck Stops Truck stops are a preferred area for traffickers since there are many potential clients in one area and the girls 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 nowhere they can run. Truck drivers are in a unique position because human trafficking literally comes knocking at their door as the girls 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 stop them. Traffickers and “johns” have elaborate codes and terms that they use over the CB radio to communicate the race, age, gender and price of the person being offered for sex. Most truckers refer to the women and girls selling sex at truck stops as Lot Lizards and as the name suggests, the general attitude towards these women is one of general disgust or indifference at best. 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 the girls and women are not selling their bodies consensually.

Rest Stops Major highways intersections such the one in Dayton, Ohio where interstates 70 and 75 intersect are traveled by thousands of truckers daily. It is through these massive highways and intersections that young girls and women are sexually trafficked through rest stops, truck stops and cheap motels. There are four major rest stops in the US: Pilot Travel Centers, Flying J, Loves Travel Stops and Travel Centers of America (TA). All the major rest stops except for Loves Travel Stops are strategic partners with Truckers Against Trafficking and actively work with law enforcement officials to monitor possible human trafficking at their facilities. As this awareness campaign by Truckers Against Trafficking has grown it has prompted other businesses to do the same. Iowa80: The World’s Largest Truck Stop recently posted a statement on their website explaining that they are aware human trafficking takes place at travel stops, but they have police patrolling the stop at night and have never had a case of human trafficking in their facilities. During this busy travel time of the year, 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.