LAKEWOOD, NJ – Hitchhiking is against the law in New Jersey. Not only that, it’s dangerous. A hitchhiking stop in downtown Lakewood today drew criticism after a Lakewood police officer initiated a traffic stop on Clifton Avenue. Many claimed it was police overreach but the vehicle that stopped in the middle of the road impeded traffic, leading to the stop.
At this time, it’s not known whether or not the driver was issued a summons or not.
Across parts of Ocean County, hitchhiking, which was big in the 1980s and 1990s to get a ride to the beach, had died down for decades, but in recent years, hitchhikers can be seen daily on county roads in Lakewood, Jackson, and northern Toms River.
Hitchhiking seemed to die out during the early 1990s after the run of the popular television series, The Hitchhiker, which delved into the darkness of society. Darkness and terror lurked as a character known simply as the Hitchhiker traveled across the country as sordid tales unfolded.
Under New Jersey law, it’s against the law to hitchhike under the states “Begging Rides” law.
“No person shall stand in a highway for the purpose of or while soliciting a ride from the operator of any vehicle other than an omnibus or a street car,” the law states. The law was enacted for public safety reasons in 2013. Stopping on a busy highway to pick up a pedestrian soliciting a free ride is dangerous to all involved, including the stopping vehicle, the pedestrian and other vehicles on the highway.
It’s also dangerous for the hitchhiker and the driver.