Difference between revisions of "Hitchhiker's safety"

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* [[Where to hitchhike]]
* [[Where to hitchhike]]
* [[Picking up hitchhikers]], for drivers
* [[Picking up hitchhikers]], for drivers
*[http://www.cheappoolproducts.com/Commercial~Solar~Heating~Panels_146~supplies.html commercial solar panels]-for safety
* [[Safety pdf]] - a project to create a one-page guide to safe hitchhiking
* [[Safety pdf]] - a project to create a one-page guide to safe hitchhiking
* [http://girls.hitchbase.com Hitchhiking as a female] - Guide
* [http://girls.hitchbase.com Hitchhiking as a female] - Guide

Revision as of 16:19, 3 January 2010

Hitchhiking is usually very safe. The most encountered feelings of unsafety are probably concerning the driver's driving style.

Road Safety

Bright clothes make it easier to be seen from a distance, which is especially necessary when hitchhiking directly on a motorway, as here in Lithuania.

You should make sure you are standing along a safe portion of road, as far back from the traveled portion of the road as possible (on the unimproved portion of the road shoulder). Make sure that you are visible to drivers from a good distance (100 meters or more is ideal) to allow them time to 1) decide if they want to pick you up and 2) safely pull to the side of the road. Wear visible clothes, also while walking on the road!

Sometimes, especially but not exclusively at night, drivers will pick up a hitchhiker because they are tired and sleepy, but must get to their destination on time. Make sure you never fall asleep in someone's car if you are suspecting this might be the case. Even if you can't find a conversation topic, stay alert. If you have a driving license you might indicate your driver of this fact. In some cases he or she will be happy to let you drive.

The hitchhiker should see theirself as an agent of road safety. Only one study has ever been made on the subject of hitchhiking's impact on road safety, and it appears that it has no negative impact, if not positive. It implies that the hitchhiker should stay safe, be seen especially at night, remind the driver of the speed limitations, and be willing to cooperate with all professionals of the road.


Awareness on the part of a hitchhiker will keep him or her from accepting dangerous rides- for example, a driver traveling under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Examine the driver and vehicle. If there are signs of intoxication (slurred or erratic speech, no eye contact, open alcohol containers) do NOT get in the vehicle. Refuse the ride.

Talk to the driver before getting in the car! This way you make sure the ride offered is one that you would like to take, and that it will end at a safe spot to stop. Ask the driver before getting in their car: Where are you going? Can you drop me off at a service area or other safe place near your destination? A rhetoric question like "Are you going north" and the drivers reaction can give you some information about him or her. Trust your instincts! If you do not feel comfortable accepting the ride, thank the driver and say no. Walk away.

Women hitchhiking

amylin hitching to Riga in the snow

For women, hitchhiking seems to be more risky. But it is not really. Many men are reporting the same degree of violation as women. If most reported cases of murder or rape of hitchhikers involve women hitchhiking alone, it is because men are less likely to report rapes (as a product of homophobia in the world), and murders are not getting the label of "hitch-hiking-murders" as often with male victims.

Hitchhiking as a woman can be easier though. Often, women stop for other women or girls. Even families (or other usual-not-hitch-hiker-friendly car owners) stop to "save" women from a situation in which they think she could be in "danger". As a product of sexism in the society many people think that women are more safe to take up as hitch hikers. And, possibly as a result of sexism in the society, women tend to be more safe to take up as hitch hikers.

You can find a specific guide about women hitchhiking at girls.hitchbase.com!

Top tips for safety

  • Wear well visible clothes, stand at a safe spot, be careful while walking on the road.
  • If you doubt about the ride offered, turn it down.
  • You can also check if the doors open from the inside by pretending not to have closed the door properly.
  • Some say to note the registration number or vehicle model and colour (SMS this to a friend).
  • Hitchhike with someone you know. On hitchhike forums (such as at Hospitality Club, Jayride or DigiHitch) you can find other hitchhikers.
  • Hitchhiking at night is more dangerous than at daytime.
  • It's probably safest to not go with more than one guy in the car.
  • It's better to sit in the front of the vehicle.
  • It is a good idea to get yourself some pepper spray, just in case. But it can be illegal to carry in some parts of the world so be aware.
  • Keep your backpack close to you (i.e. on your lap), so you grab it if you need to get out quickly.
  • Wear your most valuable stuff on your body: passport, wallet, money, mobile phone. This way you will keep these items in case you should abandon your bag.
  • If there are other houses or people in sight, you can wave to them or pretend to say goodbye to a friend. The driver will think that somebody has seen you getting into their car.
  • If getting in a truck or car driving long-distance, maybe to where you want to go, including sleeping in the truck with the driver. Never tell yes to go all way from the beginning. Say you are going to visit a friend in a city on the way and then when you get a feeling of safety with the driver tell him that you will visit your friend some other time and go all the way now.
  • Aim to leave the vehicle at a safe spot.
  • Always trust your instincts.
  • Think positive and you will attract positive. Do nothing of this and you might be safer.
  • Try to be good conversation for the driver for tips see etiquette
  • Text the license plate number and state of the vehicle you are about to enter to a friend. If anything happens, they will know the last vehicle you got into.

Choose your drivers

It is preferable to choose your drivers. You can ask for rides at petrol stations or truck stops. Briefly profile people by their appearance and talk to folks that seem safe/interesting. But always remember that appearances do not guarantee safety.

One of the safest ones to get a lift from is the truck drivers. You sit far away from the driver. You are always able to open the door if needed (just don't jump while the truck is moving if you like your life moving again). Big trucks in Western Europe anyway also have a sensor on their trucks that let their boss know exactly where they are. Going off the road or stopping for some minutes and the boss will be all over the case, calling on the phone...

This is not always the case however. In Australia, Truckies drive long distances on one lane highways and are often overworked. This can lead to dangerous driving conditions and bad experiences.

Leaving the vehicle early

When you are on the road, if the situation gets bad for whatever reason and you don't want to be in the vehicle, then find a way to leave. Get the driver to leave you at the next good hitchhiking spot (choose it yourself, don't rely on the driver to choose it for you), or in another safe area such as a city where you can contact people you know, use hospitality exchange organisations, or take public transport.

If you feel uncomfortable, remember that you don't have to stay in the vehicle, and you don't owe it to the driver to travel the full distance you agreed upon. Good get-out tactics include faking travel sickness, or stating that you've changed your mind and want to do something else. Stay calm and be polite but direct, and most drivers will respect your wishes.

Emergency exit

First of all, don't panic. Still, a situation might occur that you want to get out of the car and the driver does not want to stop. ... Need more info...

  • Hand brake?
  • Cause a (small) accident
  • Call emergency number (112 in Western Europe)
    • From personal experience: Causing a small accident may do more damage than good, since the driver will most likely just speed off, anyway, rather than trying to wait around and get caught by the police. Plus, that gives you a much greater chance of being injured. Remember that no matter where you get taken, you will still have the opportunity to hitchhike out of, and thus get rescued by someone else. Plus, vehicles do require fuel, and eventually run out of it. So, you can at some point find yourself in a (very useful!) petrol station, from where you can: have contact with other people, make phone calls, lock yourself in the bathroom to avoid confrontations, and hitchhike a new ride. Your best bet is to stay calm and confident, no matter the situation.

See also

Even more info