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Is hitchhiking legal in Ontario?

While it was mainstream in the 70s as the cheapest way to travel, “thumbing a ride” has dwindled to almost no takers in past years – due to dangers for riders and passengers, and the advent of ride share programs.

However, with the summer weather creeping in, the Prince Edward County (PEC) detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) urges people to stay safe, and be vigilant with hitchhikers.

Constable Pat Menard, Community Safety Officer, clarifies that Section 177(1) of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) states that no person, while on a roadway, shall solicit a ride from the driver of a motor vehicle other than a public passenger conveyance (i.e. taxi or bus). If caught, a $65 fine could be issued.

“The safety risk goes both ways when it comes to hitchhiking,” he said. “A driver deciding to pick up a hitchhiker is unaware of what issues that hitchhiker may have, or what reason they may have for hitchhiking at that point in time. Vice versa, the hitchhiker is unaware of who the driver is or what intentions they have for stopping and picking them up.

“As a driver, picking up a hitchhiker comes down to personal judgment and trusting that gut feeling or vibe. There is nothing wrong with deciding not to stop, or passing right by that hitchhiker enroute to your own destination. Drivers who come across an individual or group hitchhiking while in the County, are reminded to allow plenty of space, and be aware of your surroundings.”

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