The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve them, brought together a panel of experts for a webinar in June to discuss the scope of human trafficking and the specific things tolling industry professionals can do to help.

Titled Making an Impact in the Fight Against Human Trafficking, the panel presentation featured Julie Abraham, director of the Office of International Transportation and Trade, U.S. Department of Transportation; Yassmin Gramian, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Megan Cutter, director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Polaris; and Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). The event was sponsored by IBTTA Women in Tolling and WTS International, whose mission is to advance transportation and the professional women in it.

During the event, participants were given the opportunity to donate to TAT, and this fundraising effort brought in $2275.

Paris commented, "When it comes to recognizing and reporting potential victims of human trafficking, toll operators can play a critical role if properly educated and equipped to do so. We applaud the IBTTA and the WTS for hosting this webinar in an effort to bring this topic to light and activate their membership."

Paris encourages all IBTTA members to train their employees with TAT’s state agency webinar and toolkit and then suggests they might want to turn their turnpike into an anti-trafficking awareness campaign, which is what TravelBoards, Inc., working with the Ohio Turnpike Commission, chose to do. Using backlit signs and digital advertising at toll signage and travel plazas, TAT graphics and information are up throughout turnpikes in the state.

"When we came across a media piece describing how the trucking industry can make a difference in both raising awareness of human trafficking and as a call to action, we contacted TAT, because of its focus on truck drivers. Truckers are the eyes and ears of our nation's highways, and the presence of toll plazas and service plazas on turnpikes presents a unique opportunity to reach tens of millions of drivers each year," explained Garry Evans of TravelBoards, Inc.

“We would love to work with any turnpike in this effort,” Paris said, “and we can co-brand the signage, just like we did in Ohio.”