A new rule will ban human traffickers from ever getting a commercial driver’s license.

That sure seems like an admirable thing to do. It also seems hard to believe that rule hasn’t been in existence since … forever!

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the “final rule” last week.

Doesn’t something like this all but confirm that transportation is entangled in pretty much every facet of our lives, including those dark corners, which can emerge from the shadows into broad daylight?

Next time you’re on Interstate 95, you could pass a bus or tractor-trailer carrying a person who has fallen, or is about to fall, prey to human traffickers. You may cross paths with another victim on the train or in a plane.

Human traffickers use all modes of the transportation network to ply their trade, something pointed out in a report by the Polaris Project, which tracks human trafficking and helps victims.

Polaris calls a human trafficking a form of modern-day slavery, a $150 billion business with at least 25 million victims.

Polaris has called on the government to do more in battling human trafficking, but also notes U.S. transportation departments have made strides in recent years.

Those strides include creating a collection of more than 200 organizations aimed at learning, training and analyzing human trafficking in the transportation industries.

Polaris also works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to battle human trafficking.

So while Dark Ages thinking like slavery still haunts us, at least now it should be less likely that a tractor-trailer or bus you pass on the road has a human trafficker behind the wheel.

Polaris offers a hotline help number for human trafficking victims: 888/373-7888. Free texts also are available by sending “BeFree” to 233733.

Transportation summit

On the heels of Tuesday night’s visit by state transportation officials, another group will attend a transportation summit that is open to the public.

The July 31 summit, hosted by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, will address what it calls critical needs regarding the transportation infrastructure, something it considers vital to economic health in the state.

Congressman Rob Wittman will be one of several speakers, along with Robert Cary, the chief deputy commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Virginia Railway Express CEO Doug Allen also will speak on behalf of the commuter rail provider.

The summit will be held from 8:30–10 a.m. at the Jepson Alumi Executive Center on Hanover Street in Fredericksburg.

The summit is open to the public but registration and a fee is required, which can be done on the chamber’s website.

The other meeting, on Tuesday, will be held at James Monroe High School from 6–8 p.m.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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