MIAMI (CBS Miami)
Truckers can be among the first line of defense when it comes to rescuing victims of human trafficking.
Florida has launched a broad initiative to offer training to every commercial truck driver, teaching them to spot human trafficking.
Robert Deroy drives his Ryder truck up to 100 miles daily on Florida roads. He said criminal activity often happens at rest areas and truck stops.
“Let’s say a vehicle going in a corner, dropping people behind trailers, seeing people knocking on doors, like trying to get their attention for prostitution,” he said.
Deroy said one thing he looks for is hand signals.
“The sign, it’s what they teach kids at school. if they’re in distress they raise their hand, they fold their thumb inside the palm and they wrap their finger around it,” he said.
There’s also a push nationwide to get more truck drivers and bus drivers this training so they can put it to use while out on the road.
Stephanie Wicky is a Ryder marketing executive and Truckers Against Trafficking board member. The non-profit has trained more than one and a half million drivers.
“I think as far as what TAT’s mission is – it is critical. It’s led to thousands of calls to the hotline and to local law enforcement, which has led to hundreds of victim recoveries. So it’s working,” she said.
Wicky’s goal is to see training required by law across the country.
“We don’t want to believe that other human beings are capable of just evil and egregious acts. But they are,” she said.
Deroy said he loves being on the road and if it allows him to help another human being, the reward will last a lifetime.
According to Truckers Against Trafficking, more than 40% of reports by truckers involved victims who are minors.