Is Hitch Hiking Illegal?

No Hitch Hiking SignI saw a hitch hiker this morning sitting with his back against the left turn signal post on the traffic island adjacent to a left turn lane. He was holding a destination sign and was in a perfect position to talk to drivers who were waiting for the signal to change. The duration of the signal was such that he had plenty of time to hop in if he was able to convince someone to give him a ride.

He had neatly circumvented the rule against being on the roadway to solicit a ride because the raised traffic island is not designed for or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic. I suspect that he was also attracting more attention as he was not standing on the right shoulder of the highway where most drivers would expect to see him. Do you think that he caught a ride quicker than hitch hiking using the "conventional" method?

This also brought to mind what are known as "Schedule 1 Highways" or what would be more commonly known as a freeway. Due to the risk of collision, both hitch hiking and stopping to pick up a hitch hiker is illegal here. In fact, it is illegal to be a pedestrian on this type of highway unless you are attending to a broken down vehicle or a sign permits pedestrians on the shoulder.

Is hitch hiking dangerous in other respects? I'll leave that for you to decide. Although I can tell you some horror stories from my past experience as a police officer, it is an economical method of travel if you meet the right people, but how can you really tell?

Reference Links

Pedestrian Walking Along Highway - Section 182 Motor Vehicle Act
Schedule 1 Highway Restrictions - Division 19.07(e) Motor Vehicle Act Regulations
Obeying Traffic Controls - Section 125 Motor Vehicle Act
Definition of Roadway - Section 119 Motor Vehicle Act

Comments

Is hitchhiking dangerous?

Hi Tim.

I started hitchhiking when I was a teenager, in the ‘70s, and two memories really stand out.

One day, after dozens of uneventful journeys, I was with my best friend when we hitched a ride together. We were picked up by two men in a van, and at first they seemed harmless. Within a few minutes though, the driver switched from engaging in normal chit chat to asking us what we’d do if he decided he wouldn’t let us go. And a couple of minutes after that, he progressed to saying that he had, indeed, decided to keep us.

My friend and I tried to humour him, and I remember making eye contact with the other passenger, trying to solicit his help. He just looked a little nervous himself. Eventually, after we kept saying over and over again that we wanted to get out “right now,” the driver pulled over and we were able to bolt We were terrified, though, and we sought shelter in the first building we could.

After that, I vowed I’d never hitchhike again. And, I didn’t… until about a year later, when I found myself in a difficult situation.

I was sixteen, and I had flown from B.C. to Ontario to visit a commune with only a small amount of money at my disposal. I took a bus from the airport, to a remote rural area where someone was supposed to meet me. But, that someone never showed up. I knew I had to travel quite a distance yet, and even if I had been able to find a taxi, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the driver. So, having a vague idea of where I needed to go, I stood on the highway and stuck out my thumb. It was late at night, and there wasn’t much traffic, so I thought I might be on the highway for hours.

Within about ten minutes, though, a pick-up truck pulled over, and in I hopped. The driver asked me where I was going, and when I said, “To The Farm; do you know it?” he said that yes, he thought he did. He also said that he had nothing else he needed to do that night, so he’d be happy to take me. And those were pretty much the only words he said to me for the entire drive. Forty minutes later we were there, and the driver just smiled and wished me well and that was that.

I’m glad my second memory is such a good one, but the first memory serves for a more practical learning experience. I’m reminded of that line from the movie, “Forrest Gump”. One could paraphrase it and say, “Hitchhiking is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get”.

Lori

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