Safe and smart hitchhiking

Tips for lifters

Hitchhiking in the Kempen is fun, fast, sustainable and social! And often someone you know stops for you. How cozy and familiar is that? At the same time, you might also find it exciting. That is why we have listed a number of tips on how to hitchhike safely and smartly.

Be visible

  • Make sure you are visible to traffic. For example, through colorful clothing or an umbrella.
  • With your thumbs up you are easily recognizable as a hitchhiker.
  • Wear a reflector or safety vest in the dark.

Lift with common sense

  • Listen to your instincts, if it doesn't feel right, don't step in.
  • Always talk through the window first, then get in.
    • Always have a chat with the driver before you get in. This gives you the opportunity to assess the driver while maintaining a safe distance. At that moment you can look someone in the eye to assess who you have in front of you, but also detect, for example, the smell of alcohol. If necessary, signal the driver to lower the window.
  • Have an excuse ready, if necessary.
    • If you come up with a weak excuse or are tongue-tied, there is a chance that the driver will try to persuade you to get in anyway.
    • Have strong, irrefutable excuses ready. For example, say you:
      • Participate in a challenge: today you can only participate in green cars, with Renaults, only with cars with a white steering wheel, plush seat covers, and an analogue clock.
      • You only ride with female drivers or couples.
      • There are actually several hitchhikers. Your hitchhiking friends are off to the store and will be back in 10 minutes.
      • You have your principles: never go with 2 men, with men under 50.
      • Agreeing in advance with your possible lift partner what you are going to say is also recommended.
  • If it feels good, get in and take a photo of the license plate to be sure. This can seem suspicious to the driver. So let me explain right away: you trust the driver, but your parents want to be able to follow you, you collect the photos for your own memory, you have to show friends that you have been with x number or types of cars.
  • Share your location via your mobile phone with those at home and let them know in advance that you are going to hitchhike.

Get in safely

  • Wait until the car has come to a complete stop.
    • Drivers who stop in front of you are making a maneuver. Let them concentrate on that and wait until the car comes to a complete stop. Sometimes it happens that drivers drive backwards to get closer to you. Make sure they can continue to see you in their mirrors at that time.
  • Get in on the passenger side.
    • If you are hitchhiking in pairs, it is tempting to each get in on one side. However, it is better to both get into the passenger side. If that is impossible, for example because the seat is occupied or the door is broken, walk against traffic so that you see what is coming towards you.
  • Get in the front of the lift provider's car.
    • You can watch and anticipate traffic.
    • You can make contact with the driver more easily.
    • You have a (better) headrest.
    • You are more likely to have an airbag.
    • You can almost always put on your seat belt right away.
    • Cars do not have child locks in the front.

Feel free to travel

  • Buckle up.
  • Make sure you can get out easily.
  • Encourage normal speed.
    • If the driver drives calmly, say that you appreciate it! Some drivers wrongly assume that as a hitchhiker you want to go fast. Make it clear that driving fast is not necessary for you.
  • Keep an eye on the driver.

* Source: Wegwijzer VZW Safe hitchhiking.

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