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The Problem With Using a Lot Lizard - How To End Human Trafficking

by Jake Tully - Published: 3/13/2017
4.4 207 votes

Within the country, the issue of education regarding human trafficking – specifically sex trafficking - has become as prevalent as ever. The National Human Trafficking Hotline reports that in 2016 there were 7,572 cases of Human Trafficking and 26, 727 calls regarding potential and verified cases of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry in the world, generating approximately $32 billion per year. The average age a young person enters the trade is 12 – 14, meaning that many victims have been in the trade for half of their lives or longer.

Within the trucking industry in particular, the problem of ignorance about the topic has persisted, though perhaps less frequently today than it has in the past.And because truck stops are one of numerous locations traffickers are known to exploit,many look to drivers - as they are often visiting areas with a high density of individuals - in the event that a human trafficking violation is happening. As drivers are often eyes and ears of the nation, they are invaluable individuals in the process of dispensing of the act of trafficking.

Today, the trend has significantly decreased within the community, but awareness regarding the issue is still a subject that many grapple with.

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Some drivers may know the men and women by more casual and seemingly humorous terms such as “lot lizards,” or “sleeper leaper” - those that appear to be soliciting sex on their own terms.

However, while some of these individuals may be making the decision to live this lifestyle themselves, the truth of the matter is that many people are forced into the trade. It may be simple to joke and laugh about the individuals who are posted up at truck stops and areas where a high volume of drivers are present, but both sides of the trade present no laughing matter.

According to The Federal Trafficking in person report: Human trafficking is the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

The positive news is that the trucking industry has been incredibly proactive in their approach to aiding the problem that trafficking presents, and has made a sizeable difference within the issue through educating themselves and finding outlets to report what seems like an incident of abuse.

Truckers Against Trafficking

Truckers are often involved in a greater deal of events surrounding human trafficking not because they solicit sex or engage with those in the sex trafficking trade, but because those selling young women and men are often showcasing them in areas of high traffic.

Furthermore, many truckers have personal accounts about these individuals because they are, by nature of the profession of trucking jobs, more observant and cognizant of situations that may seem dubious.

“They are (truckers) traveling everywhere in their jobs, all the time - they’re going to be encountering traffickers selling victims, because they travel the same roads,” said Lyn Thompson, Communications Specialist for Truckers Against Trafficking. “They are literally the eyes and ears of America’s highways. If they knew what to look for and what human trafficking is, they could become one of the most critical forces in this fight against this heinous crime.”

To this end, the advocacy organization Truckers Against Trafficking has been providing the trucking industry with education recognize human trafficking as well as the resources to help report incidents in order to halt the activities surrounding trafficking.

Since their inception in 2009, more than 300,000 people have registered on TAT’s website as having received the training and education provided by Truckers Against Trafficking. From the beginning days of the organization to the end of2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline provided by Polaris Project has received a high volume of calls from truckers involving close to 1100 victims, 299 of which were minors.


“Prior to TAT starting, the National Human Trafficking Hotline had only received two calls from people who identified themselves as truckers, said Thompson. “Since we started, as of Dec. 31, 2016, the hotline has received 1589 calls from people who identified as truckers.”

“Lot Lizards”

Many truckers refer to people they’ve seen selling commercial sex by terms – “lot lizards” is chief among them.

Some have found over the years that a large part of the routine of trucker jobs is witnessing individuals selling sex, often from afar. When drivers become removed from the reality of the situations, making like of “lot lizards” and “pavement princesses” can be written off as seemingly harmless jokes.

However, Truckers Against Trafficking explains that using terms such as “lot lizards” can be detrimental to fighting the issue of human trafficking and can be demeaning to those who are victims of the trafficking trade.

“In trucking, we have found that the term ‘lot lizard’ is most often used to describe people selling commercial sex,” said Thompson. “It is our hope that as individuals become more aware of the realities of domestic sex trafficking insofar as many women and children are forced to participate in this crime, that when someone gets a knock on the door of their cab, or observes a woman or a child selling commercial sex, that their first thought won’t be a dehumanizing label but, instead, will be, ‘I’m looking at a potential victim.’ ”

Thompson explained that while the term is often thrown around in the industry as a joke, those who observe a potential victim have the ability to help them rather than to simply write them off as a hazard of the truck stop.

“TAT has created a window decal that allows drivers to keep the number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline handy, and reminds them of the critical role they can play in assisting someone who might not otherwise receive help,” said Thompson. “The more people can understand that each of these women, girls and boys they see has a back story, the more they will discard terms like lot lizard and the more they’ll see these folks are real people, the majority of whom who have been exploited.”


"The language we choose to use in society directly impacts our ability to pass laws to protect children," said Susanna Bean, Communications Manager for Shared Hope International. "Language matters, and language shaped by the reality of someone’s story of exploitation allows us to respond in compassion, and to craft strong laws for the protection of our children."

Backpage.com Controversy

One of the most infamous and recent cases in moving forward towards ending sex trafficking was when the popular classified ads site, Backpage.com closed their “adult ads” section in January of this year. It’s contemporary classified site Craigslist removed its adult category in 2010.

Though noted resource for truckers to find work and many other services and items, Backpage.com had built a notoriety for its adult section rather than operating as a site wherein its focuses are on job listings or commerce.

Although Backpage.com did not testify At Capitol Hill in regards to accusations of participating in online trafficking, the site nonetheless took down the section.

Shared Hope International was one of the organizations that provided statistics that aided a Congressional report that brought the site down, and is an organization that is actively in touch with the trucking community.

“Shared Hope believes strongly in stopping online facilitators like Backpage.com, however even with a complete shutdown, we’re not blind to the fact that in of itself this will not end trafficking.,” said Bean. “To be effective, important steps like the ending of online facilitation of child sex trafficking needs to be combined with a reduction in the demand for commercial sex with minors. Ending demand is central to ending child sex trafficking, and Shared Hope prioritizes the issue in our research and policy development.”

Bean stressed that the public awareness surrounding the incident with Backpage.com was just as important as the site itself shutting down the adult section. Many people did not know such activity occurred from the website, nor did they understand that those offering the “adult services” are often minors and adults forced into the trade.

Kevin Kimmel's Gripping Account of Uncovering Sex Trafficking Case from Shared Hope International on Vimeo.


Industry Trends To End Trafficking

Infographic provided By Truckers Against Trafficking

Through the assistance of organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking and Shared Hope International, the onus isn’t just on drivers to help end trafficking. Many large organizations including Peterbilt, Bridgestone, Love’s, Volvo and The Great American Trucking Show have become sponsors and advocates of educating truckers on the topic of human trafficking.

“These big names in the industry - including others and not to mention the state trucking and national trucking associations and organizations - have been invaluable as partners,” said Thompson “These partners have not only trained their own employees, and, in some cases, become TAT sponsors, but they’ve also used their influence and relationships within the industry to spread awareness about TAT and to motivate other organizations to check into us and to decide to train as well.”

Through spreading awareness on a local, state, and national level, drivers across the country have the opportunity to learn more about trafficking, even if it’s something as simple as perusing the website of an affiliated organization.

Shared Hope recommends that those who are not on the road to witness acts of trafficking can still influence policy towards ending trafficking and spread awareness throughout their network of drivers and those in the driving industry.

Anyone outside of the road can contact their local representative through a letter, email or phone call to let them know just how important combatting this issue is.

“Understanding and being aware that child sex trafficking is occurring in the US is the first step. Next, educate yourself on what the warning signs of sex trafficking,” said Bean. “Knowing the signs means that there is a greater chance that you will spot trafficking if it’s occurring around you. For cases going beyond child sex trafficking, or questions about human trafficking in general, we recommend the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888.”

It is up to truckers to take it upon themselves to end trafficking in their field of work through their actions and through making changes in the words they use when describing those involved in human trafficking.

Please visit both Shared Hope International and Truckers Against Trafficking to learn more about how to be a change maker in the trucking industry.


Photo Credits-
Top Middle
: Truckers Against Trafficking Annual Report 2016
Infographic: Truckers Against Trafficking Media Resources
Window Decal: Truckers Against Trafficking Annual report 2016
Vimeo Video: Shared Hope International
Human Trafficking Infographic: Truckers Against Trafficking Media Resources

P.S. We'd like to hear from you. If you have any suggestions or would like to share your thoughts, please tell us in the comments section below:


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Barry Boudreaux
Barry Boudreaux
I've noticed the amount of lot lizards is down in recent years. The number of scammers seem to have gone up. The ones like: I need money cause my daughter is in hospital in Florida.
Belinda Schmidt
Belinda Schmidt
The scammers and conners are bad....and seems drivers fall for it. Really irks me in a local mom n pop I go to...there's a waitress that cons customers. She is bad. And she needs fired but they can't get people to work...they get welfare too easy.
Bruce Kallenbach
Bruce Kallenbach
Oh Yess! There were so many out there when I was driving with my father in the 70's You weren't safe in a lot of the bigger cities!
Seth Cooper
Seth Cooper
Obviously have not been to Indianapolis pilot!!
Mark Blackburn
Mark Blackburn
Because their dead from aids wise up
Allen Jones
Allen Jones
O for gods sake people, what about driver courtesy or even workin girls trying to make a buck!! My god not every ones trafficking most drivers need some relief someone has to be on the scene to help with all that!!! No house lizard wants a cage just a buck to be made right up there on her back!!
Belinda Schmidt
Belinda Schmidt
Get relief from wife or woman waiting at home....or your hand. Safest and cheapest too.
Trish Swenson
Trish Swenson
Wow! This really tells me how uneducated and unaware people are about prostitutes and what you refer to as "house lizard". It may be the oldest profession, however, it is not one that people choose - most are (99%) are forced to do this- that means they are trafficked, against their will- they are doing this for a "buck" because they have been told to do this, have been abused and feel they are unworthy of anything else. These are our daughters, sisters, grand-daughters not a commodity. If you are needing "relief" perhaps take your wife or girlfriend on the road with you. People are not for sale- period.
Allen Jones
Allen Jones
Bull shit I know a lot of escorts and working girls n not one of them not one single one of them is against there will!!
Allen Jones
Allen Jones
Bull shit I know a lot of escorts and working girls n not one of them not one single one of them is against there will!!
Beth Edmonds
Beth Edmonds
Allen Jones, we are concerned for the kids under 18. Yeah, the ones older than that may choose to be sex workers, but those that are younger are being forced, beaten, drugged, and traumatized. Put yourself in their shoes. Sex is intended to be mutually enjoyable. It's likely that ain't happening here.
Anthony Gunk Gunkel
Anthony Gunk Gunkel
99%?? Really?
Maggie Morris
Maggie Morris
Did you even read the freaking article? It is talking about those that are forced. I have been riding these highways for over 20 years. And have witnessed men selling their wives, girlfriends and even their children, along with the soccer mom trying to supplement her income, the crackhead trying to put together enough for her next fix and the old fashioned "I love my job" prostitute. If they are being forced, they need help, period.
Beth Edmonds
Beth Edmonds
Anthony Gunk Gunkel, yes, really.
Denise Green Sprecher
Denise Green Sprecher
Sadly , if you witnessed it and did nothing , you are part of the problem , don't go off on a comment when you witness and do nothing . I don't give 3 craps how long you been out on the road . If your such a do gooder why didn't you help those women?
Shawn Johns
Shawn Johns
Who said she didn't try. She sure didn't say that.
Andy Turner
Andy Turner
Allen Jones is a complete fucking nimrod
Cyril Jamieson
Cyril Jamieson
Shut up stupid
Allen Jones
Allen Jones
I've been 5 million North American miles accident free,Not once have I witnessed a forced sex trafficker not one time has a lot lizard that I have ever spoken to been forced or sold in there profession!! This type of thing must happen in the liberal part of America I haven't been too and I've pretty much fed every city in American at one time or another!!! If that makes me a nimrod good I've lived a grand life n a clean one and have a lot to show for it!! Judging me for a fact I've experienced in this great country makes you no more than the liberal scum that post crap like this!!!
Mike Barnes
Mike Barnes
Nobody should make money from sex trafficking. We need to be aware of what is happening around us
Allen Jones
Allen Jones
It's the oldest profession known to mankind!! And the pleasure of the flesh on scene!! I guess nobody should have desires like that either or wipe there ass after they shit or wash there hands after they pee either!! What are you sickles n dumb or a limp dick??
Allen Jones
Allen Jones
It's the oldest profession known to mankind!! And the pleasure of the flesh on scene!! I guess nobody should have desires like that either or wipe there ass after they shit or wash there hands after they pee either!! What are you sickles n dumb or a limp dick??
Damon Tyzon
Damon Tyzon
Spoken like a man whos dick doesnt work any more
Damon Tyzon
Damon Tyzon
Spoken like a man whos dick doesnt work any more
Peter Kenworth
Peter Kenworth
What drivers who think with there head below there belt don't understand, is the diseases that come with saying with theses women. Condom or not u can get the HIV or anything thing else there carting.
Damon Tyzon
Damon Tyzon
You can also get a disease from your wife cause she fucking everybody for free while your on the road
Cyril Jamieson
Cyril Jamieson
Be aware of these nutz
Troy Amos
Troy Amos
We don't trick where I come from. Before I was married, when I was younger; hit the local target and just pull a gullible girl. Lot lizard gambling with your health.
Judy Russell Evors
Judy Russell Evors
This is a Glory Headline Lot Lizards are working on their own. College girls,Single Moms,,Etc that like The $$$ and sex. Yes they have incorporated human trafficking into some places.. This story isn't completely true on facts.. I am a woman truck driver ,I talk to these girls...No I don't need any..lol... Some tell me their stories,, Others will go to a truck for help If they get in trouble... Some are Trash ,thieves,Dope heads.. Others have a dangerous way to make a living.. But if they were in Vegas..it would be Legal...
Mark Blackburn
Mark Blackburn
One word ...H I V... It's real get tested...Wear condoms ....Plz if you must do this... Rember the young girls aren't doing this because they want too....Would you want someone forcing your sister or daughter to turn tricks then stealing their money.....Wise up it's just a nut....Theirs a price to be paid one way or another........
Kim Rogers Thomas
Kim Rogers Thomas
There were lot lizards long before 'human trafficking' became a deal. Some have a pimp, some do it on their own because they make decent tax free money.
Douglas J Pierce
Douglas J Pierce
This is one of the oldest forms of trade in all of civilization. I don't agree with trafficking. Sex trade has been around forever and benefits both parties.
Charles Marsh
Charles Marsh
Don't ruin your life for a quickie. It could end up costing you yours.
Nick Courchaine
Nick Courchaine
If you need to pay for it, you should probably kill yourself
Damon Tyzon
Damon Tyzon
Sex is always going to sell i dont feel sorry for those girls thats what they are here for
Beth Edmonds
Beth Edmonds
This article is highlighting girls that are doing this because they are being forced. Read the article again, I guess you missed that part.
Tom Larcher
Tom Larcher
Beth how is it any different than what corporations, your boss, or our own government does to us? I have NO choice but to work. The government has taken away my right to live on my own land without payment to someone.
Breanna Elizabeth Safonov Day
Breanna Elizabeth Safonov Day
Tom you're fucking stupid, that's the worst false equivalence I've ever read. Has your legal, taxpaying job ever force you to be ass raped? You aren't actually forced and blackmailed with death and abuse from trying to not work. You CHOOSE to work to survive legally, they are FORCED to "work". They're being brainwashed or blackmailed into accepting rape. Many are underage. Really guys like you will make any excuse to take advantage of women who need help just to bust a nut. People like you make me sick. I can't believe how many guys here are ok with RAPE
Justin Bozek
Justin Bozek
This is such old news. Lot lizards do not go to truck stops anymore because they know they probably have more money than the truck drivers do and we definitely do not want someone banging on our door at 2 o'clock in the morning when I gotta get up in 3 hours and pull 600 miles with a slow truck
Thomas Jensen
Thomas Jensen
Calling a working girl a lot lizard is like calling all truck drivers Scum Bags. Today's truck drive is just a whore anyway.
William Corley
William Corley
You're telling the truth, Kathleen Squzdndmddl Allen. And they force the loads on you, unless you're an O/Op.
Renee Chadwick
Renee Chadwick
It is our responsibility as professional drivers to watch for these situations and report them.
John Spencer
John Spencer
I didn't think "Lot Lizards" were even around anymore.
Mike Hawkins
Mike Hawkins
Some of you idiots need a lesson in STDs and parasites..condoms are not 100% effective and HIV and Hepatitis are real..and you can carry either one for years before showing symptoms, and there is no cure..can you imagine passing this on to not only your wife or girlfriend and possibly even your children..there is also the real possibility of parasites, lice, crabs, bedbugs, intestinal worms, ringworm, hookworm just to name a few..going from truck to truck..did you know that YOU are sleeping with everyone of her partners that she had before..youd be better off cuttin out the middleman and screwing each other..no Im not gay or a prude..I love sex just as much as any man..but there is absolutely no way in hell I would risk my health or my wife or girlfriends health for a nasty piece of ass thats been shared more than a post on FB...some are forced into this..how do you or would you know which are and which arent..Interview? Ive seen them go from truck to truck and honestly I cant even imagine even gettin aroused by the looks of them..some of you boys need to raise your standards..☠☠☠☠
Javier Gonzales
Javier Gonzales
Jessie Cosper When you got the "I love lot lizards" tattoo I didn't know this is what you meant.
Guy Devinney
Guy Devinney
And certainly don't get something comet won't wash off! Masterbation is your closest friend when it comes to being safe!
Larry Underdal
Larry Underdal
There ain't enuff broads working them truckstop's now too fill the back of a pickup.
Jonathan Woodstock
Jonathan Woodstock
Their still out here? Haven't come across any in years
Michael Mikey T Tanney
Michael Mikey T Tanney
To many Fag truck drivers out there doing it for FREE.They ran out the Lot Lizards.
Wil Williams
Wil Williams
Some of you drivers are beyond ignorance.
Cyril Jamieson
Cyril Jamieson
Shut of stupid
George Kelly
George Kelly
There is no shame in Masturbation .
Stephen Taggart
Stephen Taggart
Grow up
Gary Rogers
Gary Rogers
Lot lizards? I make them brush their tooth.
Stephen Taggart
Stephen Taggart
How about this blow me
Cyril Jamieson
Cyril Jamieson
Shut up stupid