Trouble Can Start the Moment You Stop
Most of us learned at an early age that we should never talk to strangers, so common sense should dictate that inviting a stranger into our car is a no-no of biblical proportions. But how many times have we pitied that hitchhiker or stranded motorist walking along the shoulder of the road and thought, “He or she looks OK. Should I stop?”
Going My Way?
The decision to pick up a hitchhiker carries a great deal of risk. Even novice drivers should know that stopping for thumbers is dangerous business.
In the 1960s, thumbing rides was a common and inexpensive way for college students to travel across the United States and Europe. And while the beatnik spirit of Jack Kerouac may be faded, hitchhiking is still a common practice today. Why?
The simple fact is, some people do stop for hitchhikers and always will. Many of these drivers have hitchhiked themselves, so they relate to the hitchhiker or situation. Often enough, there is a person who stops for the first time, in near-surprise at the choice. As a result, two or more people who may never have otherwise met get together, but this meeting can have disastrous results.
There are no clear statistics on how many drivers and hitchers go missing each year, but whatever the number, it’s needlessly high. To avoid becoming a victim yourself never pick up a hitchhiker under ANY circumstances. If you see someone who needs a ride – even if it is a person in uniform — call the police and send help. Do not stop.
We’ve all been there before: sitting on the side of the road, hood up, waiting for help to arrive. So when we see a fellow motorist stranded, our natural reflex is to want to stop and help – especially in extreme heat, cold, rain or snow. But the same rule for hitchhikers applies to stranded motorists: stop under no circumstances. If you would like to be a Good Samaritan, call the police from a safe distance.
The Bump and Rob
Let’s say you’re driving safely in Easter Montgomery County, PA when a car, usually with at least one passenger, rear-ends or bumps you in traffic. You know you’re going to need a Warminster auto body shop so you get out of your vehicle to exchange insurance information. All of a sudden, one of the passengers from the other vehicle jumps in your car and drives off.
If you’re rear-ended by another car, look around before you get out. Make sure there are other cars nearby, and check out the car that has bumped you and who’s in it. If the situation makes you uneasy, memorize or jot down the car’s tag number and description and signal the other car to follow you. Drive to the nearest police station.
If you do get out of the car, take your keys (and purse or wallet if you have one) with you and stay alert.
Carjacking is motor vehicle theft with violence, force and fear. It is a crime of opportunity and typically occurs at:
•Intersections controlled by stop lights or signs
•Garages and parking lots for mass transit, shopping malls, and grocery stores
•Self-serve gas stations and car washes
•Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
•Residential driveways and streets as people get into and out of cars
•Highway exit and entry ramps, or anyplace else that drivers slow down or stop
Statistically your chances of being carjacked are slim, and prevention can reduce the risk even more. To avoid becoming a carjacking victim:
•Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up no matter how short the distance or how safe the neighborhood.
•When you’re coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, especially if you sense trouble.
•Drive in the center lane to make it harder for would-be carjackers to approach the car.
•Avoid driving alone. Go with someone whenever possible, especially at night.
•Don’t stop to assist a stranger whose car is broken down. Help instead by driving to the nearest phone and calling police to help.