Urban Legends of the Road

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Lauren Smith
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 5 min read
Haunted roads, spooks, and monsters that plague drivers are standard in modern urban legends. Some of our familiar supernatural roadside companions have been with us since the 1600s.
An empty road curving through foggy woods.

Hitchhiking ghosts

Hitchhikers have been a part of our roads for as long as there have been roads. There is always someone out there who needs a ride somewhere, but sometimes, depending on your luck, they'll disappear.
On a night where you're the only car on the road, you may find a young woman standing to the side who needs to get home. Sometimes she's coming home from a dance, like a prom. 
She may be shivering and cold, and you may offer her a coat for the ride. When you drive her home, her parents will tell you that their daughter has been dead for a long time.
Sometimes she disappears as soon as you offer her a ride or halfway through the journey. She may leave the coat is in the backseat or offer you a warning.
If you don't pick the hitchhiker up and look back at them through the rearview mirror, there's a good chance they're gone.
These vanishing hitchhikers have been around since before cars existed, the oldest mention coming from 1602 Sweden, where a sleigh picked up a young girl. The group offered her a ride and stopped for refreshments along the way, only for every drink handed to the girl to transform into something different, the last being blood. Finally, she offered them a prophecy and warning before disappearing.

Hit-and-run ghosts

No one wants to hit anyone or anything. But what's terrifying is hitting something that disappears.
In Montana, on Highway 87 between Great Falls and Fort Benton, there is a man who wasn't there until your car hits him. Then, when you pull over to get out to see what you hit, there's absolutely nothing there, even though you know you hit someone or something.
In Detroit, there is a road called knock knock road or officially Strasburg Road. On this road, a young girl will knock on your car to check if you're the person who hit her.

Taxi ghosts

When there's a tragic disaster, taxi drivers will find their passengers disappearing before getting to their destination or before paying. These have been noted everywhere from Japan to New Orleans.
In Japan, in at least one story, a taxi driver picked up a woman who got in and asked, “am I dead?” before disappearing.

Ghostly joggers and runners

Like the occasional hit-and-run ghost that causes sound or movement, sometimes there's a ghostly jogger or runner that will suddenly appear and chase your car and will hit it as much as they can.
One terrifying chaser is a woman on Nash Road in Mississippi, while in Canyon Hill, Idaho, their midnight jogger usually checks in on you before continuing her run.

Ghost cars

You're driving down an empty road or street. There are no other cars for miles, and another vehicle suddenly appears, challenging you to a race. Unfortunately, the vehicle may also try and drive you off the road or force you to race in dangerous areas.
It's best not to engage with the car because, especially if it's an unfamiliar road, you'll see that if you'd sped up, you might've crashed or got into danger during a blind turn. And the ghost that challenged you will disappear to try and find someone else to chase and race.
A Camero on the terrifying Riverdale road in Colorado will challenge you to a deadly drag race. Only if that's the ghost you end up running into on this notoriously highly haunted highway.

The guy in the backseat

This story has continued to scare since at least the '60s and is considered a cautionary tale. Usually, a woman is driving and has a car following her close. The driver following continues to flash their lights.
Eventually, she pulls over somewhere to get help, and the vehicle follows her to reveal someone had snuck into the back of her car and was trying to murder her. In contrast, the other driver was trying to warn her.

Hookhand

In 1942 a man was convicted of killing people in their parked cars in Lover's Lane on Duck Hill. Legend has evolved into the well-known story of a couple interrupted by scratching sounds outside their parked car, only to find nothing but a hook left behind after dropping their date off at home. Or for one of them to be murdered by a hooked hand man when they tried to investigate the sound.
Many other stories talk about a ghost touching your car and it stalling or stopping, or even in some cases spiriting away with your gas.
Having your car stop suddenly in a haunted location can be terrifying. But with a roadside assistance membership, you can make sure you have help on the way. You can get a roadside membership with the Jerry app, so you're never left alone with the roadside ghosts and ghouls.

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