Hitchhiking

Has it reached the end of the road?

AA/Populus poll shows majority of drivers will not stop for a hitchhiker.

91% of drivers are unlikely to stop to give a hitchhiker a lift, according to an AA/Populus poll of 16,850 drivers.

The AA questions whether hitch-hiking has reached the end of the road in the UK as the number of drivers unlikely to stop has increased from 75% to 91% in the last two years. Only 1% of drivers have hitchhiked themselves in the last year and only 1% of drivers are very likely to stop to give hitchhikers a ride.

6% were quite likely to stop with males four times more likely to stop (8%) than females (2%). Older drivers were also much more likely to stop than younger drivers.

Three fifths (61%) have never hitchhiked, including 75% of females, and whilst a third (35%) say they have hitched, they haven't done so in the last ten years.

As teenagers my brothers and I would hitchhike around the UK and Europe but one rarely sees a hitchhiker today.

Edmund King, AA President

Never hitchhiked?

The younger generation appear to have never embraced hitch-hiking with 93% of 18-24 year olds and 88% of 25-34 year olds never having tried it, compared to 48% of 55-66 year olds and 52% of over 65s. Women are much more likely to have never hitchhiked (75% female v 54% male).

Drivers living in Yorkshire and Humberside are least likely to have hitchhiked (67% never), closely followed by the North West and East Midlands (66% never). Fewer drivers in Northern Ireland have never hitchhiked (48%).

Hitch-hikers in East Anglia and the North West are likely to be in for the longest wait at the roadside whereas those in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland probably stand a better chance of getting a lift. It appears that those living outside mainland England have a more 'Celtic friendly' attitude towards hitchhikers perhaps as a result of less public transport in remote areas.

Would you stop?

If you saw someone hitchhiking at the roadside, how likely would you be to stop and give them a lift?

  • Wales – 12% (very or quite likely to stop)
  • Northern Ireland – 11%
  • Scotland – 10%
  • South West – 9%
  • North East – 8%
  • West Midlands – 7%
  • South – 7%
  • Yorkshire/Humberside – 6%
  • East Midlands – 6%
  • London – 6%
  • North West – 5%
  • East Anglia – 5%

The apparent lack of goodwill towards hitchhikers contrasts sharply with goodwill towards fellow motorists who have broken down. 61% of drivers would stop to help a motorist but only if comfortable that it was safe and that they could help (65% male, 55% female).

Comment

Edmund King, AA President and former hitchhiker, said: "Sadly we appear to have reached the end of the road for hitchhiking. With only 1% of drivers saying that they would definitely stop to give someone a lift, and only 1% of respondents having hitchhiked in the last year, drivers have given a thumbs down to hitchhiking.

"The older generation are more likely to have thumbed a lift and hence are more likely to pick up hitchhikers. Perhaps cheaper coach travel, growth in car ownership, online lift sharing sites and personal safety fears have all contributed to the decline in hitchhiking.

"As teenagers my brothers and I would hitchhike around the UK and Europe but one rarely sees a hitch-hiker today. Some hikers have swapped their thumbs for a computer mouse in order to lift-share from the comfort of their home rather than taking their chances on a rainy roadside."

Personal safety

Hitchhiking is the cheapest form of transport and the 'greenest' form of road transport but sensible precautions should be taken. Hitchhike in pairs and tell a friend or relative of your route. Harness technology to stay safe too - when you get into a car, announce that you're "just going to text the car details to my partner" or whoever.

Best novels

  • On the road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Best and worst songs

  • America by Simon and Garfunkel
  • Hitchhike by Marvin Gaye
  • Psycho Killer by Talking Heads
  • 2468 Motorway by Tom Robinson Band
  • Highway to Hell by AC/DC

Worst ride

  • White van


(updated 11 October 2012)

(AA/Populus research undertaken July 2011)

 

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