State DOT Contributions to the Study, Investigation, and Interdiction of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, commercial sex acts, or slavery. Within the United States, human traffickers are using national, state, and local transportation infrastructure, systems, and modes. State DOT staff and technology resources have the potential to assist in efforts to combat human trafficking, aid victims, and support critical decisionmaking. There are several actions that state DOT personnel can take to enhance awareness and use of their resources to supply valuable information that supports anti-human-trafficking efforts. These actions include the following: knowing the signs of human trafficking; collecting actionable information; utilizing existing anti-human-trafficking resources provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign, Polaris, and Prajwala; cooperating with requests from internal and external law enforcement for information that can be derived from transportation agency assets or personnel; and investment in, and use of, helpful technologies such as smart video archiving, license plate readers, and toll tag records. Also, through more strategic efforts to support anti-human-trafficking efforts, state DOTs can support law enforcement in the gathering of and access to relevant information, thereby supporting successful investigations, interdiction, and decisionmaking. A transportation workforce trained to observe and report suspicious behaviors of traffickers and their victims complement “if you see something, say something” campaigns, enhancing community resilience. Opportunities to observe and report include flaggers at work zones, maintenance people at rest areas, toll collectors, or any worker while on their commute or off duty. Many transportation professionals are not familiar with the problem of human trafficking; and, while some have awareness, their knowledge may be limited to anecdotal experiences. It can be challenging to rally the resources needed to educate employees on the scope of the problem and on the specific steps they can take -- through planning, programming, and daily operations -- to respond appropriately. Research is needed to inform state DOTs interested in developing structured responses to human trafficking that are appropriate to their state and in supporting their employees who may be on the front lines of this criminal activity. The objectives of this research are (1) to identify how state DOTs can assist and/or enhance the existing efforts in combatting human trafficking and (2) to develop guidance and a suite of tools that support effective training, policy, and collaboration practices related to mitigating human trafficking. The target audiences of this research include, but are not limited to: leadership within state DOTs, state DOT field staff, contractors, industry stakeholders, and collaborative partners.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $299883
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-121

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Harwood, Leslie

  • Performing Organizations:

    Project Performance Corporation

    Mclean, VA  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Baglin, Chris

  • Start Date: 20180531
  • Expected Completion Date: 20200330
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41646

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01634979
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-121
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 19 2017 1:00AM