Truckers Against Trafficking: The learning process continues

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Just when I think I have a general understanding of how the trucking community will react to something, I’m once again humbled and a little bit shocked by it. Y’all keep me on my toes, and I appreciate that. I’ve often said I learn more from people who disagree with me than those who do. That doesn’t mean I’ll ever agree with them, it means I gain a broader understanding of the problem in general when I take a minute to examine my gut reaction to something and explore other points of view on the subject. It’s called “learning” and it’s a process that never ends for me, because even after four years I’m still an infant in this industry.

TAT logoCase in point. Ohio just announced a mandated hour of TAT training be incorporated into their CDL school programs. My gut reaction was, “Way to go, Ohio! That’s great.” I really thought the general response would be positive, because I felt positive about it, so I posted it on our Facebook page, and I was genuinely shocked at the overall negative response. Comments got a little heated and snarky, and feelings may have been hurt, but the overall experience made me take a minute to reflect on why mandating anything as positive as education that can prevent human trafficking could possibly be a bad thing.

“Why is it our responsibility?”
I get it that CDL holders are already held to standards way above the pay scale most of the time, and it is unfair to assume you have a responsibility to anything other than your duties as a driver. That being said, human trafficking occurs often in transient places – like truck stops – and slavery is against the law, and if you’re trained to see the signs and can prevent it happening in the first place, it makes you safer by keeping those things from occurring in the lots you sleep in. I don’t know about you, but I’d sleep much better knowing the chances of a six year old kid being sold for unspeakable things two trucks over is much lower because of a combined, educated effort in the trucking community.

“People who hire lot lizards will do it whether or not training is mandated.”
I’m not so sure that’s entirely true. I had no idea of the scope of human trafficking until I got a little TAT education. I thought it was funny, I wrote snarky little pieces about the “elusive lot lizard,” because I was completely unaware of just how many are not willing participants. I had the misconception of people choosing to do what they do – and there are most certainly plenty who willingly choose the sex trade. I get that, too. But the evidence and stories from trafficking survivors are consistent in that people are being lured in at the age of 12, 13 and 14 years old, and no child is capable of making those decisions. They are victims, plain and simple, and if more people were made aware of the deeply sinister nature of the business, I firmly believe the number of Johns would decrease.

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“The government is over-reaching in forcing more mandated training.”
I really, really wish Ohio had chosen better wording for their press release. I think the word “implementing” would have been far more palatable than “mandating.” Yes, it’s completely psychological, and doesn’t change the fact that it’s one more thing being forced on the industry, but I honestly believe people would have been more receptive to the idea. I also believe that other states should step up, and rather than mandate it, implement it as a regular part of curriculum schools can choose to use and give some sort of extra credit or certificate for. Vocational education is based on classroom and practical hours, not semesters or quarters, I not only have a vocational education, I’ve taught at a vocational school. I understand that as a teacher you have a seriously short schedule to get all the information in, and never enough time to practice the hands-on. Even an hour is sometimes the difference between someone getting it and being able to pass a practical test, and having someone cram one more hour of training into an already crazy fast schedule is horrible. I get it, I really do.

“What’s this going to cost me?”
I don’t know how schools will be affected, but anyone who already holds a CDL won’t have any cost associated at all. You’re not required to do anything — this is strictly for vocational CDL training curriculum, and at the present time, only in Ohio is it mandated.

I can feel for both sides of this argument, and as always, I appreciate those who chose to comment with opposite views. I still applaud Ohio, and I still think it’s a good idea, although I don’t like the idea of being forced by a government who doesn’t follow their own rules to do anything any more than you do. It’s sad we have to be educated on such things at all, I’d much prefer they be eradicated, which is exactly why I support the extra hour of education. It’s important enough to argue for.

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