Freedom Drivers Project highlights human trafficking on the road

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) -- Since 2009, truckers made more than 2,250 calls to the National Human Trafficking hotline.

Knowing their drivers have eyes on the road nationwide, Schneider National partnered with the nonprofit "Truckers Against Trafficking" to help educate drivers and the community about the increasingly more prevalent problem.

Just last year in Wisconsin, there were 122 calls made to the National Human Trafficking hotline and 64 human trafficking cases were reported.

Since 2007, there have been a total of 1,500 Wisconsin calls to the hotline.

“The idea is you can make the difference in one person's life, and that matters,” said Helen Van Dam, director of the Freedom Drivers Project.

Inside the Freedom Drivers Project mobile exhibit are artifacts from survivors of human trafficking and stories of how truckers have helped prevent the crime.

“There's some items in there like a bed token, shoes, a lipstick case, a mirror that someone would use to look in before someone would turn a trick. So, just really impactful items in there that would bring it to the forefront,” said Tammy Grunert, associate relations manager for Schneider.

The company teamed up with the project in 2016 to educate employees on the signs of human trafficking; but it's the first time the mobile exhibit made a stop in the Green Bay area.

“Traffickers are going to take their victims wherever they can make money, but we acknowledge that professional drivers are often in locations where they could potentially be selling them,” said Van Dam.

Each new driver for Schneider goes through a Truckers Against Trafficking training course to learn how to spot potential human trafficking.

“There's all different signs that drivers would look for. It might be someone really young with an older person, it could be maybe an RV parked on tractor parking that people are coming in and out of. So, just those things when you're looking at it and think, ‘hmm, that doesn't look quite right,” said Grunert.

Anyone is encouraged to call the hotline if they suspect human trafficking.

1-888-3737-88 (US)
Text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733)