U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

Public Roads
This magazine is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information.
Public Roads Home | Past Issues | Subscriptions | Article Reprints | Guidelines for Authors: Public Roads Magazine | Sign Up for E-Version of Public Roads | Search Public Roads
| Current Issue |
Back to Publication List        
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-21-002    Date:  Winter 2021
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-21-002
Issue No: Vol. 84 No. 4
Date: Winter 2021


Guest Editorial

Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation

Here at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), we take great pride in the capacity of America's transportation network to enable Americans and goods to safely and swiftly get to where they need to go. Unfortunately, human traffickers are also taking advantage of the Nation's transportation systems. To combat these crimes, the Department is utilizing a multipronged approach that reaches Department employees, front-line workers, other transportation stakeholders, and the traveling public.

Portrait of Elaine L. Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

The fight against human trafficking starts with this Administration taking a whole-of-government approach. USDOT is a member of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, a Cabinet-level entity chaired by the Secretary of State to coordinate Federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Every USDOT employee is required to complete human trafficking awareness training every 3 years so that no matter where our work takes us–from the front doors of headquarters to around the world–we can be informed, aware, and active participants in stopping human trafficking crimes.

The Department's modal administrations are committed to the fight against human trafficking as well. This year, the Federal Transit Administration awarded $5.4 million to 24 organizations from across the United States to support the prevention of human trafficking and other crimes that may occur on buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation. In 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a final rule that permanently banned drivers convicted of human trafficking from operating a commercial motor vehicle for which a commercial driver's license or a commercial learner's permit is required.

The Department also established a new annual $50,000 Combating Human Trafficking in Transportation Impact Award. As the first recipient of the award, United Against Slavery will conduct a multimodal National Outreach Survey for Transportation, and will make the results available to the public.

We have strong allies across the transportation industry. Earlier this year, I announced the Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking "100 Pledges in 100 Days" campaign. I'm proud to say we greatly exceeded even that ambitious goal. More than 500 transportation and industry stakeholders have signed on to join us in combating human trafficking. This initiative includes resources for counter-trafficking strategies, training resources, and public awareness materials to help us maximize our joint impact. USDOT has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the Blue Lightning Initiative, training more than 100,000 aviation industry personnel from 47 airlines, airports, and other aviation organizations on how to safely identify and report suspected trafficking.

Everyone can make a difference by keeping an eye out for signs of human trafficking. An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Survivors have been reported being trafficked through every means of transportation. You can help save the victims by reporting suspected human trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1–888–373–7888, or by sending the message "info" or "help" via text to 233733 (BEFREE). Every one of us has a role to play in stopping this form of modern-day slavery. To learn more about what USDOT is doing to combat human trafficking, visit www.transportation.gov/stophumantrafficking. With your help and our work together, I know we can end human trafficking.

Elaine L. Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation



Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101