How many of us have taken random rides from people. ( i.e. lifts) I have taken quite a few from some strangers during my undergrad days. Usually the trick involves to have a chick sticking a finger out (especially for flagging down a Sumo, Qualis) and then after the vehicle has stopped the rest of the junta used to pileup as well into the SUV.
Now regular drivers do regard hitchhikers as dangerous and even the vice versa where the hitchhiker needs to be careful about whom hes taking the ride with. Hitchhiking especially for the fairer sex is a lot different than it is for the guys. I remember taking a ride in a truck alone about 4 in the morning while coming back from a college fest. Now most people would probably consider this sheer lunacy but then again the only vehicles out at 4 in the morning are trucks ferrying the day's morning paper or vegetables, so I really didn't have much of a choice.
Hitchhiking is also a subject thats treated in a very negative role in most movies. Hollywood/Bollywood have a very stereotyped notion. Most often either the driver or the passenger turns out to be the evil dude.
In the US hitch hikers are a rare breed. First of all on no one walks on the roads, other than in the cities. However there is definitely a unique form of hitching a ride also known as "slugging" over here. This is pretty much specific to the Washington D.C. area (for now).
There is the concept of the HOV (Heavily Occupied Vehicle) lane on the freeways over here but for that in DC there is a 3 person HOV so many a times a car may have only the driver who cannot use the HOV as he does not have the specific capacity in his car. Thus the driver pickups passengers (slugs) from the bus stops and thus it is mutually beneficial for all people involved. The driver gets to his destination faster because he can now use the HOV and the slugs save on traveling time, parking and gas.