Hitchhiking is still a thing, but it is much less common than it was in the past. There are a few reasons for this:
- The rise of personal transportation. More people own cars today than they did in the past, so there is less need to hitchhike.
- The perception of hitchhiking as dangerous. There have been several high-profile cases of hitchhikers being attacked or killed, which has led to a perception that hitchhiking is dangerous. There are also plenty of pop culture references to either getting picked up by a serial killer or picking up a serial killer hitchhiker.
- The rise of ride-sharing apps. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have made it easier and more convenient to get a ride, which has led to a decline in hitchhiking.
Despite these factors, there are still people who hitchhike. Some people hitchhike because they cannot afford to pay for a ride, while others hitchhike because they enjoy the adventure. If you choose to hitchhike, it is important to be aware of the risks and to take steps to stay safe.
In the United States, the number of people who hitchhike has declined by more than 90% since the 1970s. In 1973, an estimated 1.6 million people hitchhiked in the United States. By 2019, that number had fallen to just 120,000.
There are several reasons for the decline in hitchhiking. One reason is the rise of personal car ownership. In the 1970s, only about 60% of households in the United States had a car. By 2019, that number had increased to 80%. This means that fewer people need to hitchhike because they can simply drive themselves wherever they need to go.
Another reason for the decline in hitchhiking is the development of public transportation systems. In the 1970s, public transportation was often seen as being unreliable and inconvenient. However, in recent years, public transportation systems have improved significantly. This makes it easier for people to get around without having to hitchhike.
Finally, the perception that hitchhiking is dangerous has also contributed to its decline. In the 1970s, there were several high-profile cases of hitchhikers being murdered or abducted. This made people more hesitant to hitchhike, and it led to a decline in the practice.
Despite the decline in hitchhiking, it is still a popular way to travel in some parts of the world. In developing countries, where public transportation is often unreliable or expensive, hitchhiking is a common way to get around. In addition, hitchhiking is still popular among some groups of people, such as backpackers and long-distance cyclists.
Serial Killers and Hitchhikers
Serial killers and hitchhikers have a long and complicated history. Hitchhikers have always been seen as vulnerable and easy targets, and serial killers have often taken advantage of this. Some of the most notorious serial killers in history have targeted hitchhikers.
- Ed Kemper (also known as the Co-Ed Killer) was a 6-foot-9-inch-tall, 300-pound man who picked up and killed six female hitchhikers in California in 1972 and 1973. He also killed his mother and her best friend.
- Ted Bundy was a handsome, charming man who picked up and killed dozens of young women in the 1970s, across several states. He would often pose as an injured motorist or a police officer to lure his victims.
- Gary Ridgway (also known as the Green River Killer) was a truck driver who picked up and killed 49 women in the Seattle area between 1982 and 1998. He would often strangle his victims and dump their bodies in remote areas.
These movies all explore the fear and vulnerability of hitchhiking, and they can be quite suspenseful and disturbing. Hopefully, they will inspire you to not hitchhike.
- HitchHiker (1953) is a classic horror film about a young woman who is stalked and killed by a mysterious man while hitchhiking across the country.
- The Hitcher (1986) is a remake of the 1953 film, and it stars Rutger Hauer as a psychopathic hitchhiker who terrorizes a man while driving cross-country.
- The Prowler (1981) is a slasher film about a World War II veteran who returns home to find that his small town is being terrorized by a hitchhiker who is killing young women.
- The Last Ride (2009) is a thriller about a woman who is terrorized by a hitchhiker while driving home from a funeral.
Some more movies you may remember with hitchhiking scenes include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Creepshow 2 (1987), Quicksilver Highway (1997) and I’m sure many others.
There are several reasons why serial killers are drawn to hitchhikers. First, hitchhikers are often young, and vulnerable. Second, hitchhikers are often alone, which makes them easier to control and abduct. Third, hitchhikers are often unfamiliar with their surroundings, which makes it easier for serial killers to get away with their crimes.
Hitchhiking is a dangerous activity, and it is not recommended. There are many risks associated with hitchhiking, including:
- Being attacked or robbed.
- Being abducted or killed.
- Getting into a car with someone who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
- Getting into a car with someone who is a sex offender.
- Getting into a car with someone who has a criminal record.
Hitchhiking Safety Tips
If you must hitchhike I would still recommend against it, but at least there are some things you can do to stay safer:
- Only hitchhike during the day.
- Hitchhike in well-lit areas.
- Hitchhike in areas where there are other people around.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be there.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with someone, do not get into their car.
- Be prepared. You should be carrying pepper spray, a stun gun, or CCW firearm anyways, but even more important in this situation.
Uber or Lyft: Safer Alternative?
Uber and Lyft are both ride-sharing services that can be a safer alternative to hitchhiking. These services use background checks to screen drivers, and they allow passengers to track their rides and share their location with friends.
Uber and Lyft have both been involved in instances of violence. In some cases, drivers have attacked passengers, and in other cases, passengers have attacked drivers.
- In 2020, a Lyft driver in Seattle was shot and killed by a passenger.
- In 2019, an Uber driver in San Francisco was stabbed to death by a passenger.
- In 2018, a Lyft driver in Chicago was shot and killed by a passenger.
- In 2018, an Uber driver was arrested for allegedly raping a woman he picked up in Washington, D.C.
- In 2017, a Lyft driver was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he picked up in Chicago.
- In 2016, an Uber driver was arrested for allegedly killing six people and injuring two others in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- In 2015, an Uber driver was arrested for allegedly raping a woman he picked up in New Delhi, India.
- In 2014, an Uber driver was arrested for allegedly killing a woman he picked up in San Francisco.
In addition to these incidents, there have been numerous reports of non-fatal assaults and other forms of violence involving Uber and Lyft drivers and passengers.
These incidents have raised concerns about the safety of ride-sharing services. In response, Uber and Lyft have taken steps to improve safety, such as conducting background checks on drivers and passengers.
As of 2022, Uber completed 14 billion rides and Lyft completed 6.1 billion rides. Of those rides, there were only 1,300 reported cases of violence. This means that the rate of violence on Uber and Lyft rides is about 0.00009%.
It is important to note that these are just reported cases of violence. It is possible that there were other cases of violence that went unreported. However, even if we assume that there were twice as many cases of violence that went unreported, the rate of violence would still be very low.
The total number of rides completed by Uber and Lyft is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. However, it is important to note that ride-sharing services are still relatively new, and there is still a lot that we do not know about their safety. If you are considering using a ride-sharing service, it is important to be aware of the risks and to take steps to protect yourself.
Here are some safety tips for using Uber and Lyft:
- Check the driver’s identification before getting into the car. The driver’s name and license plate number should match what is shown in the app.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, ask the driver to pull over and let you out.
- Do not drink or use drugs while riding in an Uber or Lyft. This can impair your judgment and make you more vulnerable to attack.
- If you are a woman, consider riding with a friend or family member. This can help to deter potential attackers.
- Report any suspicious activity to Uber or Lyft immediately. This includes drivers who are driving erratically, drivers who are asking for personal information, or drivers who are making you feel uncomfortable.
- Be prepared. You should be carrying pepper spray, a stun gun, or a CCW firearm anyways, but even more important in this situation.
By following these safety tips, you can help to protect yourself while using Uber and Lyft.
Most of the time hitchhiking does not end in your death. However, there is always a risk involved, and it is important to be aware of the potential dangers before you decide to hitchhike.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were an average of 600 deaths per year from hitchhiking-related accidents between 1975 and 1999. And the far majority of these deaths were getting hit by a car while the hitchhiker was standing on the side of the road, not a serial killer. The number of deaths has declined in recent years, and there were only 14 deaths in 2019.
It is important to remember that no matter how you are traveling, there is always some risk involved. By taking some simple precautions, you can help to keep yourself safe.
As always, be safe and be prepared.