Whatever Happened to Hitchhiking?

The Decline of Hitchhiking in America: Unraveling the Impact of Freeway Killers, Serial Killers, and Horror Movies


Hitchhiking, once a popular and adventurous means of travel, has significantly declined in America over the years. This decline can be attributed to several key factors, including the emergence of notorious freeway killers like William Bonin and Randy Kraft, the fear instilled by serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer, and the portrayal of hitchhiking in horror movies like “The Hitchhiker.” In this blog post, we will explore how these factors have influenced the decline of hitchhiking and shaped public perception.


One of the significant factors contributing to the decline of hitchhiking in America is the emergence of notorious freeway killers. William Bonin and Randy Kraft, known as the “Freeway Killers,” terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s. Their heinous crimes, which involved abducting, assaulting, and murdering young male hitchhikers, shocked and horrified the nation. The media coverage of these cases created a widespread fear among potential hitchhikers, discouraging them from taking such risks.


The presence of infamous serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer has also played a crucial role in the decline of hitchhiking. Dahmer, known for his gruesome acts of violence and cannibalism, preyed on vulnerable individuals. Though not exclusively targeting hitchhikers, his actions further fueled the perception that hitchhiking was an unsafe practice. The fear of encountering a psychopath like Dahmer on the open road has undoubtedly deterred many from hitchhiking.


The portrayal of hitchhiking in horror movies has perpetuated a negative image and reinforced the decline of this once-common practice. Films like “The Hitchhiker” (1986) depicted hitchhikers themselves as dangerous and menacing characters, preying on unsuspecting drivers. The cinematic portrayal of hitchhiking as a potential source of terror has undoubtedly influenced public opinion from the drivers’ side, so to speak, leading to a decline in its prevalence.


Hitchhiking, once a popular mode of travel, has faced a significant decline in America. The emergence of freeway killers, the terror instilled by other notorious serial killers, and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes through horror movies have all contributed to this decline. The fear and caution instilled by these factors have discouraged individuals from participating in hitchhiking, opting for safer alternatives instead.


While hitchhiking may have lost its popularity in America, it is important to note that the decline is not solely attributed to these factors. The growth of rideshare services, increased awareness of personal safety, and changes in societal norms have all played a role. However, the impact of freeway killers, serial killers, and horror movies cannot be overlooked. As we move forward, it is essential to understand the complex interplay of these factors and continue to prioritize safety in our travel choices.

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