SAN ANGELO, TX - Uber drivers are learning the warning signs to identify and potential save victims of human trafficking. Now when Uber's 75,000 drivers log into the app, they'll be able to see information such as how to spot victims of trafficking.
"I’m really glad Uber is stepping up because they're in a prime position to pick up on suspicious activity, especially if they're taking someone to hotel after hotel," said Karla Payne, executive director of Open Arms Rape Crisis Center.
She says many traffickers use transient locations to take advantage of their victims. Now while Uber drivers ride around town serving passengers they can also serve as a pair of eyes into corners most people don't always see.
"They can kind of detect suspicious activity. If there’s a minor maybe dressed a certain way, dressed sexually provocative for outside their age, [or] if they have bruises,” said Payne.
Drivers are trained to look for signs of abuse, neglect, or tattoos that may seem like branding.
“Someone being accompanied by an adult but they seem scared or timid or afraid or they keep looking to the adult for guidance," said Payne.
But sometimes there doesn't need to be an obvious sign.
"There’s just a gut feeling that somethings not right here, maybe I should intervene or maybe I should call somebody,” said Payne.
She says events that attract large audiences tend to create an increase in foot traffic for illegal activity.
"The rodeos coming up, and anytime there’s big events like that, sort of transient, you may get a lot of traffickers coming in for things like that,” said Payne. “And the Superbowl are prime time for traffickers to advertise their services.”
In a statement to USA Today, Tracy Breeden with Uber's global safety communications said "we have a lot of eyes and ears on the road, and if we can help just one child, it's worth it."
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