Hitchhiking Dangers

Hitchhiking is a phenomenon that dates back decades, if not centuries. For ages people have been hitching rides with strangers when other transportation proves unavailable. But is it safe? It most cases it's best to avoid hitchhiking, say experts.

Hitchhiking puts travelers at the mercy of others. One never knows who is behind the wheel of a car or truck. While it's good to assume the best of others, the fact is that while there are many trustworthy people on the country's roads, many others are best avoided. And one can never tell on sight the difference between a Good Samaritan or an ill-intentioned motorist.

Here are some of the other dangers to consider.

* The driver who picks you up may be drinking, driving without a license or a careless driver.

* Hitchhiking requires standing on the roadside. This puts you at risk for an accident.

* You may end up stranded or in a deserted area if the person providing the ride can't take you to a final destination.

* Hitchhiking can result in abuse, robbery, sexual assault, among other crimes, if the driver is a criminal.

* Spending long days outdoors can result in heat exhaustion, hypothermia or other weather-related conditions.

* Hitchhiking is illegal in many areas.

For the driver ...

The same safety concerns exist for drivers considering picking up hitchhikers. Certain bad people prey on others' good nature and compassion for less-fortunate individuals. Criminals often pose as hitchhikers to gain access to potential victims. Drivers should keep this in mind when they see a hitchhiker on the road.

If a person stranded on the roadside seems like he or she is in danger or needs assistance, it's better to alert the authorities.