About 60,000 truck drivers licensed in Arkansas will be required to complete a human trafficking prevention course under legislation enacted in this year's regular session, state officials said Tuesday.
House Bill 1923 by Rep. Charlotte Douglas, R-Alma, is now Act 922.
The law will help save lives, said Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, who is the Senate sponsor of the measure.
"The fact is that those places that [human traffickers] utilize to pimp or put out the young people are places that are frequented by truck drivers, and 95 percent of the truck drivers want to do the right thing," Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, said after a news conference at the state Capitol. "They want to help out. They want to know what to do if they see something that looks suspicious."
Under Act 922, a person wanting to obtain or renew a Class A commercial driver's license will be required to complete a course administered by the Arkansas State Police or a state police-approved third party. Another option is to complete an online certification course offered by Truckers Against Trafficking. Evidence of completion will be given to the state Department of Finance and Administration.
After the applicant completes the online course, the state police will receive documentation verifying the work, said Bill Sadler, a state police spokesman. The course includes a 26-minute video and a 15-question quiz, said Kylla Lanier, deputy director of Truckers Against Trafficking, based in Englewood, Colo.
"The course is geared to make commercial drivers to be aware of human trafficking, look for the tell-tale signs of individuals who may be with other drivers or around truck stops who may be victims of human trafficking," Sadler said. "ASP is not involved in providing any revenue to operate the human trafficking course."
Truckers Against Trafficking will provide the course for free, Newton said.
The Class A commercial driver's license is good for four years, Sadler said. The course is designed to be a one-time course for these license holders, he said.
Act 922 will become law 90 days after the Legislature adjourns its regular session. The regular session is now in recess and scheduled to adjourn on May 1. If the regular session adjourns May 1, Act 922 will become law in late July.
"This is the first of its kind legislation," Lanier said at the news conference.
Similar legislation is pending in the Kansas and Texas legislatures, and Ohio's highway patrol adopted this training requirement as a rule, she said.
The Arkansas Trucking Association has encouraged its members to voluntary train their members and "this particular piece of legislation pushes that envelope a little farther," Newton said.
Metro on 04/19/2017