TRENTON – Legislation making it mandatory for transportation network companies to provide applicants and TNC drivers with an anti-human trafficking training course on the dangers of, harms, and warning signs of human trafficking advanced out of the Senate Transportation Committee. Applicants and drivers would be required to complete the course, which would be approved by the Attorney General.
Under the bill, sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Troy Singleton, the applicant driver, upon completion of the course, would have to produce certification that the training has been completed to any TNC whose digital network – including Uber, Lyft, etc. – the driver uses. The anti-human trafficking course may also be made available via web-based video or digital format.
“New Jersey’s geographic location as part of a transportation hub including both New York and Philadelphia has made it prime territory for would-be predators and the scourge of human trafficking. Better educating ride-share and TNC drivers about the telltale signs surrounding human trafficking is one further step we can take to better protect the public and give law enforcement one more possible tool to intervene in these cases,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).
Human trafficking continues to be a growing menace in New Jersey. The bill is a way to help curb what’s been documented as an increasing use of TNCs as a resource of human traffickers to anonymously and discretely move and relocate victims. Although TNCs have taken steps to increase awareness about human trafficking, anti-trafficking training is usually not required for current or applicant drivers.
If a TNC driver fails to certify completion of the course, the TNC would be required to prohibit the driver from utilizing its digital network to provide rides until a driver submits the certification.
“Human trafficking is an industry that profits from exploiting young, vulnerable people,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “It is vitally important that transportation providers, including rideshare services, be trained on the warning signs of human trafficking. These drivers are often the first visual line of defense and with the right education, can perhaps assist in identifying both predators and their victims.”
A 2022 study from the Mineta Transportation Institute on the role of transportation in human trafficking found that rideshares are among the most commonly used vehicles for human trafficking, and that transportation plays a key role in human trafficking operations to control victims.
The bill, , S-1143, was released from the Senate Transportation Committee by a vote of 5-0.