Car surfing

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For the car-sharing model of vehicle rental, see Carsharing.

Car surfing (also known as Iowa surfing) involves riding on the outside of a moving vehicle being driven by another person. It has resulted in numerous deaths, predominantly caused by head injuries.[1]

The Societe de l'Assurance Automobile Quebec (Quebec Provincial Automobile Insurance Company) defines car surfing as follows [2]:

  • Riding on a moving vehicle (on the roof, at the rear, on the side, etc.);
  • Riding in the box or cargo space of a truck or pick-up truck;
  • Holding onto or being pulled by a moving vehicle;
  • Riding in a sofa, on a skateboard, a sled or any other object hitched or tied to a moving vehicle.


Car surfing, a term introduced in the mid-1980s, involves riding on the outside of a moving vehicle being driven by another person.[1] It has been popularized by the hyphy movement.[citation needed] It is similar to ghost-riding, except the vehicle remains under the nominal control of another person.


A 2008 study by the United States Centers for Disease Control[1] identified 58 newspaper reports of car-surfing deaths and 41 reports of nonfatal injury from 1990 through summer 2008. Most reports of injury were found in U.S. Midwest and Southern newspapers (75%), largely involving males (70%) and youths aged 15–19 (69%). A majority (58%) of reported car surfing incidents ended in death.

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