General Question

JHUstudent's avatar

When did hitchhiking stop being a thing?

Asked by JHUstudent (678 points ) December 30th, 2013

Just curious to hear when that happened and why.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

Judi's avatar

I used to hitchhike occasionally in the 70’s. Hen there was a rash of serial killers like Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez and even an immortal teenager lie me realized it was to risky.
In Oregon ai still see a few hitchhikers a week but not nearly as many as I did growing up.

bossob's avatar

It was popular in the 70’s when I hitchhiked across the U.S. It was common to see a dozen students lined up on an entrance ramp closest to a college. There were unwritten rules of etiquette such as going to the end of the line and not bogarting a joint if you lit up. It was mostly guys, and we would all moan when a girl walked up. Even if she went to the end of the line, some guy would drive up and single her out ahead of the rest of us.

I don’t remember lines of hitchhikers in the eighties. Like Judy said, some crazy stuff started happening, or else it was just more publicized. I currently live outside a town of 5000, and see 1 or 2 hikers a week. Usually they’re locals trying to get to work, or back home, when their car wouldn’t start.

likipie's avatar

When we realized that “normal” people can be dangerous too.

Buttonstc's avatar

As soon as serial killers started using it as a golden opportunity for easy prey, that ended the carefree days of the “summer of love” and everything that was positive about the hippie/commune/sharing vibe that was so refreshing.

Watch a fee seasons of Criminal Minds and it will give you pause about the “glamour ” of hitchhiking.

ETpro's avatar

@JHUstudent When sensible drivers caught on to what @Buttonstc said, and stopped giving hitchhikers rides. Now, anybody who WILL pick up a hitchhiker is every bit as suspect as the person thumbing for the ride.

Seek's avatar

My hubby still picks up hitchers sometimes. Only when either a) we’re in a pickup truck, so they ride in the bed, or b) he’s alone, without me and our son. No hitchers in the car with the wife and kid. 90% of the time it’s just an old homeless dude looking for a ride to the nearest McDonalds for a cheeseburger.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with those above, there was a rash of serial killers and rapes, and now someone who picks up hitchhikers is just as suspect as a hitchhiker.

Sometimes I see someone walking and I want to give them a ride. They aren’t hitchhiking, but I see them in the heat or the cold, walking and carrying something, and wish I could give them a lift at least part way to where they are going if it is the direction I am going. What is the statistical probabilty that person is going to hold me up or hurt me? Probably not highm they weren’t asking for a ride. I’m still too afraid to do it. It sucks. I can’t easily accept a ride either.

@Seek_Kolinahr We could do it in our truck. Like you said put them in the bed of the truck. I think I would still be too nervous.

jerv's avatar

@ETpro Thanks for calling me sketchy :/

Aspoestertjie's avatar

In SA chances are good that you will never reach your destination if you hitchhike. Times have changed dramatically. I will not even let my children walk alone in town. When I was a child I could walk for miles and I never felt like I was in danger.

jerv's avatar

@Aspoestertjie The world is no more (or less) dangerous than it ever was. It’s just that with 24/7 news, and the internet’s ability to instantly spread the most trivial bit of information to billions of people in seconds, we are more aware of the danger that has always existed. Ignorance is bliss.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Some cities do go through ups and downs with crime. NYC was much more crime ridden back in the 70’s and 80’s, now it is a relatively safe city. I do agree though that people are more paranoid now because of the reporting, media, internet, etc. Some crimes are extremely rare, but we feel like it is around every corner. Like child kidnapping, one of the most horrific of crimes. It is very rare in America, much less likely statistically than most people think. Most parents won’t let their children walk far, similar to @Aspoestertjie, it’s a shame. I’m not sure what city she lives in in SA or what the real stats are. Possibly it is dangerous there relative ti most cities.

zenvelo's avatar

I was going to school in Santa Barbara in 1976–1977, when there were three murders of women that hitchhiked in Isla Vista. There was a widespread movement to both stop hitchhiking, and a call for people to not pick up hitchhikers, so as to discourage the practice.

I had hitchhiked to and from high school as a teenager, it was pretty common. But those murders about ended it in Southern California.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@bossob @Buttonstc That’s why we are taught never to hitchhike in my country.

rojo's avatar

Mid to late 70’s when TV started putting out stories of the nasty things that happened to people who hitchhiked.
Not that these things didn’t happen, just that the media exposed a much larger percentage of the population to them and sensationalized them.
We also learned about serial killers, chain saw massacres and other nasty human habits.

Cupcake's avatar

My grandfather taught his kids (born in the 1950s) that if they hitchhiked and weren’t killed that he would kill them himself. I’m assuming that he was concerned for their safety if they were to hitchhike, but there could have been cultural elements he was opposed to as well. They all passed that message (without the “I’ll kill you myself”) along to their kids.

LilCosmo's avatar

Growing up in the LA area in the 70’s it was the norm to see at least one hitchhiker on every on ramp. I vividly remember my parents double checking to make sure the doors were locked whenever we got on the freeway. I agree with those who said that it was the increase in publicized killings that changed that. There were a couple of high profile serial killers when I was in my early teens and that is when I remember hitchhikers disappearing.

My husband will pick up hitchhikers as long as there are no kids in the car and as @Seek_Kolinahr said, they are usually homeless guys trying to get from one place to another, We did pick up one guy who was on his way to work and another guy who had walked fifteen miles to his boy’s high school football game and was heading home.

poofandmook's avatar

@jerv, I wholeheartedly disagree. The media is the reason why the world is more dangerous… because people get ideas. Copycats.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I live off of I-44 and see them all the time.

Jack Kerouac popularized it back in the day, made it seem really fun. Which it probably is if you survive.

On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac. On the Road is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across America. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drug use.

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie Hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m liberal, but I’m not stupid.

You know how much I argue for homeless people’s rights, but I still refuse to engage parking lot beggars. I’m sorry you need some spare change, but I’m a small female, alone, possibly with a five year old, just trying to get some milk and bread home. Please don’t talk to me.

If my husband’s there, we’ll talk to him, find out the guy’s story, and then decide whether to help him out however we can.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I wasn’t calling you stupid, that thought would never occur to me regarding you. I didn’t have the impression you were going up to strangers yourself and offering a ride. Interestingly, in NYC I would go up to someone homeless and give them my leftovers from a restaurant without thinking twice about. I would not be concerned for my safety, but partly because I have done it on streets where other people are passing by.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@poofandmook except that it is actually safer today than it was 40 years ago.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@uberbatman Please explain why you believe that?

El_Cadejo's avatar

US Crime Index Rates per 100,000 Inhabitants

…....................1973…............2012

Total ... ...........4,154.4….......3246.1
Violent… .........417.4…...........386.9
Property…........3737.0…........2859.2
Murder…..........9.4…..............4.7
Rape….............24.5…............26.9
Robbery….......183.1…...........112.9
Assault…...........200.5…..........242.3
Burglary…........1222.5….........670.2
Larceny Theft . 2071.9….......1959.3
Vehicle Theft…442.6…..........229.7

jerv's avatar

@poofandmook I would agree with you if not for the fact that that’s actually not true. Like @uberbatman, I have too good a grasp on reality to get caught up in that fear trap.

Cupcake's avatar

@uberbatman I had no idea of the data. Wow. Rape is up (but probably not significantly) and absolutely everything else is down.

The statistician in me wonders if there have been any changes in definition. That’s incredible. I had no idea.

glacial's avatar

@Cupcake Or reporting is up, maybe due to less stigma for the victim.

My father used to pick up hitchhikers occasionally. But we lived in a rural area, where almost everyone knew everyone else. If someone was hitching through town, the reaction was to want to know who they were and what they were up to. And… you know… also to help them. ;)

filmfann's avatar

I used to pick up hitchhikers, but I got tired of being yelled at by my family.
Only once did anything unusual happen.
When I lived in my apartment, I picked up a girl who was hitchhiking early in the morning.
She got in the car, and immediately stole my stick shift knob, and said she needed $4.50 for BART (the local subway), and if I didn’t give it to her, she would tell the police I assaulted her, and show them the stick shift knob to prove she was in the car.
Yes, I gave her the money. What else could I do?

glacial's avatar

@filmfann That’s a great story. I am picturing her as Ally Sheedy’s character from The Breakfast Club.

Seek's avatar

Didn’t mean to imply you were calling me stupid. It was just an offhand comment. “I was born at night, not last night”, you know?

KNOWITALL's avatar

My family has always told me I’d get raped or killed if I picked up hitchhikers. :(

jerv's avatar

@KNOWITALL Remember, if you pick someone up, you are in control. Few people will do anything to the driver if the car is doing 70MPH, especially if it’s on a windy, twisty road. Crazy people not to mess with people who seem crazier than they are.

dougiedawg's avatar

I did some hitchhiking back in the ‘70’s and had some interesting experiences. Later I drove cross country and picked up hikers occasionally to help share the driving.

Nowadays I don’t pick anyone up without knowing them. That can be tricky too because I picked up one who resembled someone I knew.

The guy gave me weird vibes and said very little. About a year later he abducted and killed a college student and was eventually executed. He was a real creep, obviously.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jerv I could use my ‘crazy eyed look’ when I pick them up then? lol, that mental picture is hilarious!

ISmart's avatar

when people started getting hurt.

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