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Truckers fighting human trafficking are trained to be alert to late-night knocks

Brian Sprowel has seen a lot in his nearly 40 years as a professional truck driver. He’s been to every state except Hawaii and has logged nearly 4 million miles across America’s highways.

But from his seat behind the wheel, he sometimes sees a much darker side of the country.

A few months ago, Sprowel said, he got a late-night knock on his door while he was resting at a truck stop in Quartzsite, Arizona. A sickly looking young woman came up to his truck window and asked whether he wanted any company. He said he pointed to the National Human Trafficking Hotline number on his truck and asked her: “Ma’am, is there something I can help you with? You see this number on the side of my truck? Do you need help?” She ended up running away, Sprowel said, but the red flags were enough for him to alert the authorities.

“I figured, ‘Well, this ain’t right. There’s something going on here,'” Sprowel, 59 said.

Other truck drivers sometimes call him an everyday hero, in part because he drives a Kenworth rig known as the “Everyday Heroes” T680, but also because of his involvement with Truckers Against Trafficking, or TAT.

The Colorado-based nonprofit trains truck drivers and various other members of the transportation industry to recognize human trafficking and alert authorities to potential victims. TAT says that since it was created in 2009, it has trained about 845,000 people in the transportation industry, over 700,000 of whom are truck drivers. That’s out of the total 3.5 million truck drivers who are employed in the U.S., according to the American Trucking Association.

“My heart goes out to these people,” Sprowel said. “If I see somebody in trouble, and it [doesn’t] look like they’re able to get out of the situation, I’m picking up the phone and making a phone call for them.”

Making the call is as simple as dialing 911 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, but it makes a huge difference in the fight against human trafficking.