Texas – In a robust move toward combating human trafficking within the Lone Star State, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) has sanctioned House Bill 2313, which mandates that all drivers affiliated with Transportation Network Companies (TNC) undergo rigorous training to identify and mitigate the illicit transportation of trafficked persons. The legislation, signed last spring, will come into full force on September 1st.
“We recognize that Uber drivers can serve as the eyes and ears of their communities, interacting with passengers from all walks of life. By providing drivers with the knowledge and tools they need, we hope they can play a small role in helping to identify and prevent this horrible crime,” said Harry Hartfield, director of Public Affairs for Uber in Texas, according to NBC DFW.
Texas Uber and Lyft drivers will now be required to undergo special training under new Texas law
The bill’s passage emerges on the heels of multiple distressing reports concerning TNC drivers unwittingly facilitating the movement of victims ensnared in human trafficking. Traffickers, prioritizing ease and convenience, have insidiously leveraged ride-share services, a revelation brought to light by Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK, a Texas-based advocacy group.
In collaboration with Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Senator Angela Paxton (R-McKinney), and various ride-share providers, CHILDREN AT RISK has been instrumental in fostering the bill’s development and eventual passage. They are driven by an unyielding conviction that Texas, being a hub for human trafficking, must be at the vanguard of the national effort to stymie this abhorrent crime.
“People think this is a problem on the border or this is a problem you know just on the seedy side of town,” said Dr. Sanbron. “But when we create maps of trafficking in our area in Dallas, what we see is it’s on the money part, it’s in the north, it’s in the west and its parts of town people don’t think of as areas where there’s trafficking.”
All Lyft, Uber drivers will have to complete a video each year before they are granted approval to operate in Texas
A salient feature of the law will be the mandatory, annual video training that must be completed before drivers obtain approval to operate. This curriculum, as detailed in the legislation, will encompass a profound exploration of the victim’s experiences, a discerning analysis of how and why trafficking occurs within the transportation sector, and a broader elucidation of the issue.
Alerts drivers may hear include:
- Requesting to be dropped off at hidden entrances,
- Insisting on cash payments
- Coaching someone on how to lie
- Asking for money or ID
- Verbal abuse
- Discussing job opportunities
Signs drivers will be told to look for include:
- Emotional abuse and distress
- Physical abuse and signs of branding
- Exerting power over the potential victim
- Travel and transit considerations
- Kids at unsafe locations
- Multiple phones and excessive cash
- Unsafe work environment
“The idea is to train the drivers so that drivers can be a first line of defense when they identify potential trafficking victims, especially child trafficking victims,” said Dr. Sanborn.
By instituting this comprehensive training regimen, Texas showcases its commitment to not merely recognize but actively engage with a profound societal challenge. In creating a legal framework that recognizes the integral role of TNC drivers, House Bill 2313 may herald a significant advance in the collective effort to curtail human trafficking, casting light on the darker corridors of society where this heinous crime often thrives unnoticed.
In further improving public safety, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed new street racing legislation.