Hitchhiking is admittedly dangerous; you are trusting your well-being to whatever type of person is willing to pick a stranger up off the side of the road. However, in dire situations, it may become necessary, so here are some hints to help.
1. Safety in numbers.
It may be hard to plan an emergency, but if you have the option of splitting up from your companion or staying together, stick together. This is especially important advice for females: If you have two females and a male in your group, and you believe that two people are more likely to be picked up then three, then make sure the women do not hitchhike alone. It’s best to minimize risk when possible.
2. Don’t try to get a ride from the side of the road.
If you can get to a gas station or parking lot, you’re better. You can talk with your ride, and it is easier to convince people to give you a ride. You can ask politely and explain your situation, and size up your potential ride.
3. Your safest rides come from families, couples, and old people.
A hitchhiker’s nightmare is obviously the person who does them harm; either robbery or physical assault. Obviously, a family with children is unlikely to hurt you, and a couple is not likely to do you any harm. If old people are willing to help you out (perhaps you approached them before getting into the car) they’re probably unable to overpower you.
4. Let someone know where you are
Maybe you have a phone but can’t find anyone to give you a ride. Technology is still on your side. Text someone the license plate number of the car and a picture of the driver before you hop in. This lets the driver know that someone is waiting for your return. If you don’t have a phone, tell the driver that people are waiting for you and expecting you.
5. Keep up your guard
So you get picked up, and you may feel relieved, especially if you’ve just been picked up from the cold and wet. Of course, things can still turn sour. Perhaps you size up your driver and assume he’s alright, but conversation reveals he is not a safe person to be with. Stay calm. If you have a bag with you, keep it between yourself and the driver. If he says things that make you uncomfortable, tell him. Some people are more loose around people they assume they will never see again. Be aware of this possibility.
6. Come up with an exit strategy
The worst has happened. This person is making you fear for your own safety. Stay calm. Perhaps they are only doing it for a cheap thrill, but it is not worth the risk. Fake a phone call, and then ask your driver drop you off at a nearby point. Tell him you have friends meeting you there. If he refuses, insist. Threaten to call the police and do so if he does not then honor your request. Do not try to escape the car unless absolutely necessary; if you are in a remote area, you are still vulnerable. The best thing to do is talk him into driving you somewhere populated, well-lit and safe.
I hope it never comes to hitchhiking, but if you need to, I hope you do so safely!