Phantom hitchhikers are said to be a kind of ghost or apparition that seems to be hitchhiking, that stands by the side of the road, or that suddenly appears in the middle of the road. People who believe in these ghosts say that they look like real human beings, and when hit accidentally by a car, they seem so solid that drivers stop their cars, thinking that they have injured a real person. Upon investigating, drivers supposedly find no body and no damage to their cars. Most phantom hitchhikers seem to inhabit one particular stretch of road and reappear on many occasions, to many different people. Some stretches of road become notorious for these sightings. For example, the Blue Bell Hill Road in Kent, England, is well known for its ghost sightings. From the 1960s through the 1990s, numerous drivers thought that they had hit a ten-year-old girl only to find, when they got out of their cars, that no one was there. Others saw a girl after getting out of the car and wrapped her in a blanket, but the girl disappeared—leaving behind an empty blanket—before the police arrived. Interestingly, the same stretch of road was the site of a major automobile accident in 1965, during which three people were killed—though all of the victims were young women, not children. Since many of the sightings along Blue Bell Hill Road were reported to authorities, the drivers were obviously seeing something, though what they saw is uncertain. Skeptics suggest that sightings of this sort are probably attributable to hallucinations caused by extreme fatigue. Skeptics note that many of these phantoms are seen on particularly monotonous roads, where driving fatigue more easily sets in; and most phantom hitchhikers appear at places along these roads, particularly sudden curves, where a sleepy driver might be startled into a more alert state. The circumstances of such sightings, the skeptics say, suggest that the phantomhitchhiker experience is somehow connected to sudden changes in the driver’s level of awareness.
- Human Ghosts
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning