There are lots of different theories and practices around hitchhiking etiquette and courtesy for your driver.
Introductions:I leave it to drivers to offer their names first. Many times they never do. Leading to the situation in which you can occasionally (especially on long rides) hear detailed intimate experiences of someone who you never learn the name of.
Be good conversation: If you share a language with the driver, it often makes sense to try to engage them in casual conversation. Drivers often pick people up to make their rides more interesting. They are doing you a favor picking you up, you can return the favor in part by keeping them engaged. You can ask simple classic conversational questions to get things rolling:
- What kind of work do you do?
- What do you like to do when you are not working?
- Have you ever hitchhiked yourself?
- Why do you pick up hitchhikers?
- What are you going to do when you arrive at your destination?
For these answers, it is often useful to ask follow-up questions which are dependant on their answers to these initial questions. It is important to read the attention and mood of your driver. If they are giving short answers or appear disinterested in conversation (especially if it is in a language which is challenging for them) then you don't want to drop your good faith efforts to make conversation.
Here are some suggestions for snappy answers to tricky questions.
"I have been convicted of 19 felonies, aren't you concerned?"
— "Not at all, I've been convicted of 22"
Going out of their way: It is often a question in an experienced hitchhiker's mind if they want to ask the driver to go out of their way to drop them off in a better place for a ride or to take you closer to your destination. Again there is no universal answer. If your driver seems harried and rushed then your request to go out of the their way will likely get turned down. If the driver seems friendly and relaxed then your request has a better chance. Usually, you will have better luck asking them to go out of their way to drop you somewhere IF you have been good company of the ride and they feel like they have some connection to you.
Advice from Drivers: Many times a hitchiker has spent hours cursing the helpful driver who told them "Oh, I know a great place to hitchhike!" In fact, most drivers don't understand the basics of hitchhiking, that a careful mix of enough traffic, but not too much traffic is desirable. That a place which might look great because it has a good place for cars to stop or for a hiker to ask drivers for a ride, could in fact be a terrible place if it is just before a complex intersection which sends cars off into lots of directions which are not the one you are interested in. Weather, darkness, local friendliness, traffic patterns, good places for cars to stop and more need to be factored into weighing which location is the best. Do not be afraid to tell your driver that they don't know what they are talking about − when it comes to good places for rides. You should attempt to do this in as polite a fashion as possible. But since they are dropping you, if you fail to correct them in their mock understanding of a good hitchhiking place, you could spend a lot of time regretting their mistake. While they annoyingly are off to drop another hitcher in a poor place.