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Uber drivers to help human trafficking victims

Uber is giving its drivers information on how to spot victims of human trafficking and get them help. (WPEC)
Uber is giving its drivers information on how to spot victims of human trafficking and get them help. (WPEC)
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A new set of eyes and ears, to keep our streets safe.

Your Uber driver will be looking for something specific the next time you get in the car.

“I think it’s fantastic if it works," Uber driver Frank Martino said. "If it saves one person it’s worth it."

Martino, who's from Deerfield Beach, is a father of a 16-year-old boy and also a full-time Uber driver. Now he’s part of a new campaign to spot victims being trafficked on our streets.

Uber is teaching its drivers about the telltale signs: riders who are taken to multiple hotels for short periods of time or riders who are with another person who seems to be controlling them.

“Get to a safe spot, try to get ‘em out of danger and report it as fast as you can,” Martino said.

Florida is the third state in the nation for human trafficking.

In 2017, 329 sex and human trafficking cases were reported in the Sunshine State.

Within the last 10 years, more than 4,500 victims of human trafficking have been rescued in Florida.

“I think it’s brilliant,” said Becky Dymond, a licensed mental health counselor.

Dymond runs a safe house in Palm Beach County for sex trafficking victims and is glad to hear that Uber is training drivers to be able to spot victims of sex trafficking.

“It’s just another opportunity for someone to leave the life in a safe way,” she said.

Dymond says telling Uber drivers what to look for is a big step in getting women help.

“More eyes are a good thing,” she said, adding that she hopes Lyft will do it too.

Meanwhile, Martino hopes he can make a difference.

“People don’t want to get involved," he said. "Me, I’m different. I’d get involved."

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Uber drivers are being instructed if they find a woman who appears to be a victim of sex trafficking and she wants help, they can call 911 or a human trafficking hotline.

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