Is It Illegal to Pick Up a Hitchhiker?

By Williams Logistics, Inc on 8-22-2023

Is It Illegal to Pick Up a Hitchhiker?

Hitchhiking has been one of the most common forms of travel for several decades until recent years. In other countries, hitchhiking is still common for locals as well as travelers. People who prefer to hitchhike enjoy the experience of talking with a local and finding unique places off the beaten path. Hitchhikers are at the mercy of drivers willing to pick them up so they have to walk where the traffic is or go to truck stops. This can be dangerous for both hitchhikers and drivers. 

What is a Hitchhiker? 

So what is a hitchhiker? Why would someone try to travel by depending on strangers or walking? A hitchhiker is someone who travels by relying on the kindness of passing drivers to stop and pick them up. Hitchhikers prefer the sense of freedom, nearly cost-free, and the opportunity to share stories at the cost of their time and travel plans. 

Do People Still Hitchhike? 

While it’s still common outside the U.S, the amount of people who still hitchhike has been rapidly declining. There are several factors that have contributed to this decline including: 

    • An expansive network of accessible public transportation
    • Fear of strangers (mostly thanks to horror movies featuring hitchhikers)
    • Construction of interstate systems 
      • Less travelers through smaller towns
      • Higher speeds means less time to see hitchhikers and higher safety risks
      • More regulations and rules against hitchhikers walking or standing on the road
    • Increases in individual car ownership

Is Hitchhiking Illegal? Is It Illegal to Pick Up a Hitchhiker? 

Despite all of the reasons mentioned above, there are people who still want to hitchhike. But are there any laws against hitchhiking or picking up a hitchhiker? While there aren't any federal laws prohibiting hitchhiking, each state has specific rules and limitations. These can range from no limitations to strictly prohibited including:

    • Unlawful for any person to hitchhike or driver to stop to pick up a hitchhiker on any interstate, toll road, or toll booth
    • Unlawful to stand in the roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride
    • Unlawful to solicit rides at nighttime

Hitchhikers and drivers can be subjected to a fine or ticket if they are caught breaking the state’s rules on hitchhikers.

Where is Hitchhiking Illegal? 

For most states, hitchhiking is legal with limitations. However, there six states that specifically prohibit hitchhiking regardless of the type of road including:

    • Arkansas
    • Maine
    • Oregon
    • Pennsylvania
    • Tennessee
    • Washington

Why Don’t Truck Drivers Pick Up Hitchhikers?

It’s commonly thought to try and target truck drivers for a lift as they often travel across the country. However, truck drivers are not allowed to pick up or give a lift to any hitchhikers. For truckers, driving is their livelihood compared to other drivers. From safety of the trucker and hitchhiker to insurance issues, truck drivers have to be extra careful. Depending on the situation and their company, violations can cause a truck driver to lose their license and their job.

At Williams Logistics, we are always focused on the safety and education of our drivers so they can be prepared for the road. Reach out to us today to learn more about our company or ask any questions!