Transportation is a piece of all human activity. As individuals and as a society, the logistics of getting people and goods from one place to another is a question we answer countless times a day. Just today, billions of people drove to work, took the bus to school, used a rideshare to get to the store, or took the train into the city to enjoy an evening out on the town. This list does not even consider all the items people have ordered online which will be shipped and delivered to homes. Even more exciting is the innovation that inspired all the aforementioned modes of transportation; transportation technology has the amazing potential to make our lives easier, more efficient, and more equitable. But implementing all this technology requires labor, and the technology can only benefit those who have access to it.
Most of us have never truly considered whose labor makes mobility possible. Relatedly, it is hard to imagine life without access to transportation if you are a person who has always known how they will get to work. This article will provide a framework to better understand one type of labor within the industry, exploited labor, also known as forced labor. Forced labor is part of the transportation industry and is also impacted by a lack of transportation. Without reliable and safe transportation individuals are at a higher risk of
forced labor in other industries. The bottom line is twofold: considering the impacts that an increased demand for new technology will have on people who work in mines, in the supply chain, and in transportation as a service, as well as considering legal tools to maximize access to transportation for historically underserved communities in light of new technology.
All this to say that this article will consider how society might reimagine the regulation of emerging transportation technology in a way that combats the systemic vulnerability that leaves people at risk of forced labor. This will include both the labor being performed to manufacture and operate the technology, as well as the impact on access to transportation of the user and nonuser. Though this article will largely analyze the role of automated vehicles, other innovations including reconfigured public transportation and electrification will also be considered. Transportation is at the heart of everything humanity does and yet this article will only scratch the surface of these issues.
Setting the Agenda: The Legal and Historical Context to Best Understand How Transportation Technology Might Be Regulated to Combat Forced Labor,
J. L. & MOB.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/jlm/vol2022/iss1/5