Drivers caught engaging in human trafficking will be banned for life from operating a commercial motor vehicle, federal regulators announced today (July 16).
The final rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reflects changes made by the “No Human Trafficking on our Roads Act,” signed into law by President Trump in January 2018, updating a list of offenses permanently disqualifying individuals required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
“By enforcing a lifetime ban on any [commercial vehicle] driver convicted of severe human trafficking, we aim to deliver a strong and effective deterrent to this abhorrent behavior,” said FMCSA Administrator Ray Martinez. “If a commercial driver is convicted of using their commercial motor vehicle related to human trafficking, that person will never be driving interstate commercial vehicles again.”
A U.S. Senate report that accompanied the legislation pointed out that human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking, occurs at truck stops and state-operated rest areas throughout the U.S. “Given their remoteness and insulation from communities, these locations can be a convenient place for sex traffickers to operate with minimal concerns for detection.”
The trucking industry has been working with the federal government and law enforcement to address the problem. NATSO, the trade association of America’s travel plaza and truckstop industry, has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on several initiatives to combat human trafficking.
One of the largest trucking partnership programs is Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), a nonprofit group created to recruit members of the trucking and busing industries to become involved in reporting human trafficking. TAT recently partnered with truckload carrier U.S. Xpress as part of the effort.
“Truckers Against Trafficking is working to build a mobile army of transportation professionals dedicated to recognizing and reporting cases of human trafficking,” TAT Executive Director Kendis Paris told FreightWaves. “Any person, regardless of their livelihood, who is convicted of this heinous crime should face severe consequences in order to prevent future exploitation.”
FMCSA’s final rule is part of a broader effort within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to address human trafficking across the transportation sector. DOT’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking submitted a final report on July 2 providing recommendations on actions the department can take to help combat human trafficking, which sets out separate guidelines for each transportation mode.
The final rule goes into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. However, because some states may need to conform their licensing statutes and regulations to include the new disqualifying offense, the FMCSA is giving states no later than three years and 60 days to comply with the regulation.