California Crimes And Accidents
Associated With Hitchhiking

World Wide Web Publication by Bernd Wechner

This is probably the best piece of research into the safety of hitch-hiking that exists in the English speaking world. It was originally published as a report in 1974 by the California Highway Patrol. It was a thin book of 90 odd pages and some 12,000 words. I doubt very much that the original circulation was very large. To begin with the subject matter of hitch-hiking is rather esoteric and not one for the popular press, at least not in such a well researched form. It wasn't an easy report to find. No library I approached could obtain it, not in Australia, Europe or the United States and the California Highway Patrol themselves could not provide me with one. In the end I did get a copy from the library of the California Highway Patrol itself. Given how hard it is to get, and how pivotal it is as a work in the field of hitch-hiking, I've been making copies available to researchers who approached me for years.

The entire report was scanned on and converted to text using some sophisticated OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. The software is not fool-proof though, and errors may have crept in, even after Anick's diligent proof-reading. As a consequence I would be very grateful to hear of any errors in the text as they are discovered. I would also be very appreciative of feedback from readers who have found this text useful, informative or interesting.

I've taken the liberty of publishing it on the assumption that:

  • It has been 36 years since it was published and there is every chance (without legal research mysides) that copyright has expired.
  • It was produced by a public police force and not marked confidential (nor could it credibly be) hence is likely to be rightfully in the public domain.
  • It is of significant utility to researchers into hitchhiking and the evolved safety of hitch-hiking.
  • if the California Highway Patrol object they can get in touch explaining why and on what basis.

In any case please keep me informed of any errors in, or issues arising from this republication on-line, or for that matter if you found it useful.


This report is the result of a study performed by the Operational Analysis Section of the Department of the California Highway Patrol in response to Senate Resolution 18 by Senator Walsh which was adopted by the Senate on March 6, 1973 (Annex A). The study was to include all incidents of crimes perpetrated by hitchhikers, crimes committed by other persons where the hitchhiker is the victim and accidents caused by a vehicle in the process of picking up or discharging a hitchhiker on a freeway or at a freeway ramp.

The study was possible only through the generous cooperation of California's local law enforcement agencies. Especial thanks are given to the Los Angeles Police Department and the California Department of Justice for providing information upon which to base the estimate of the proportion of crimes which are related to hitchhiking.

California Crimes And Accidents
Associated With Hitchhiking