All over the world, motorists report giving lifts to hitch-hikers who then vanish ghostlike into thin air. Phantom Hitch-Hikers, as these insubstantial passengers are called, have become classified as an urban legend and have been related to historical tales of supernatural traveling companions. But is there more to such stories than picturesque folklore? Are there genuine paranormal experiences behind the reports? Goss explores the meaning and causes of this phenomenon. In terms of purpose and behavior, the Phantom Hitch-Hiker of urban folklore is a thoroughly conventional ghost: one who matches popular expectations of what a ghost is, what it does, and why. He or she is the spirit of a deceased person, the victim of a tragic accident, which resulted in the premature termination of earthly existence. It would appear that these “ghosts” are motivated by, especially on the anniversaries of their unfortunate accidents, a desire to complete their unfinished homeward journeys. It would also appear that they do not know that they are dead. This is the most comprehensive study of a peculiar phenomenon that has mystified students of the paranormal for centuries. Goss’ study will entertain and inform anyone who enjoys a good ghost story and anyone who is interested in understanding the mysterious and unexplained.
Michael Goss read English at Leeds University and received an M.Phil. from Birmingham University for his thesis on Victorian supernatural literature. He is a freelance writer specializing in the paranormal, a former member of the Society for Psychical Research, and the compiler of a bibliography of poltergeists. He is an active member of ASSAP and lives in Essex.