GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), noting that it supports efforts to combat human trafficking, said it nonetheless opposes a recently proposed U.S. Senate bill dealing with trafficking because they say it unfairly singles out truck drivers.
OOIDA was referring to a bill introduced by U.S. Senators John Thune, R-S.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
S. 1532, known as the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, is “A bill to disqualify from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life an individual who uses a commercial motor vehicle in committing a felony involving human trafficking.”
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of which all three senators introducing the legislation are members, also held a hearing today to explore the role of transportation providers in combating human trafficking.
Another bill introduced by the three, Bill 1536, or the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act, focuses on the prevention of human trafficking.
The bill would designate a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation and increase outreach, education, and reporting efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“Human trafficking must be fought on many fronts,” said Thune, the chairman of the Commerce Committee. “Our legislation is a starting point for prevention and enforcement against the use of a Commercial Driver’s License in human trafficking.”
“As our eyes and ears on the road, truckers and commercial drivers are often the first line of defense against human trafficking,” said Klobuchar. “By providing training to recognize and report trafficking, we can empower them to prevent this heinous crime across the country.”
“We must do more to stop human trafficking,” said Nelson, the committee’s ranking member. “These bills will provide us with more tools to help recognize and prevent this horrific crime.”
An OOIDA spokesman couldn’t fathom why truck drivers, who have been the ones to take up the fight against human trafficking long before industries outside trucking became involved, would be the subject of a bill aimed at punishing traffickers.
“We are exasperated that at a hearing where truckers were applauded for their critical role in combating human trafficking that any lawmaker would single out that same profession for a crime that happens everywhere,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president. “Truckers are on the front lines of defense in the battle against this horrendous, global crime by way of identifying, reporting and ultimately preventing it.”
OOIDA expressed concern about the possible precedent S. 1532 creates as it relates to CDL penalties and also said the bill is redundant because of existing criminal penalties for those convicted of human trafficking.
OOIDA is a supporter of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), the group dedicated to fighting against human trafficking.
OOIDA represents the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 158,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the Greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.