This week, the news in town has been about the dangers of texting and driving. This past December, a young man was struck and killed by a car while running at night because the driver of the car was driving and texting. His death is tragic and senseless, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the young man’s parents. His father is now working to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving. Although some cities have passed ordinances against texting and driving, Texas doesn’t have any statewide laws banning the use of cellphones while driving. Even in states that have laws, many people don’t abide by them.
Yesterday, Erika talked about safety on the run and linked to a UVA survey about whether runners feel safe on the run. I took the survey (you can too!) that focused on personal safety and dangers from attackers. Today, Courtney also talks about winter running safety. It’s a topic that can’t be talked about enough, in my opinion.
No matter the season or the time of day you’re running, there are many different potential hazards that runners should all be mindful of on our runs. When I ran in urban areas like Philadelphia and Baltimore, I was mindful of potential attackers as well as distracted drivers. As runners, we need to be on the defensive no matter what the danger, whether in daylight or dark, and no matter what the time of year.
5 tips for staying safe on the run
- Stay alert. I ran in urban areas and rural trails. Now, it’s all suburban. No matter where you run, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. Try not to run with music, and if you must, keep it at a volume where you can hear every car and pedestrian. On my runs now, I say hi to other runners when we pass, but their music is so loud that I can hear it (and they don’t answer me because they can’t hear me). I always look around me (including behind me) to know what’s happening in my surroundings. I used to carry my keys in my hand in such a way in case I needed to use it as a weapon. Sounds ridiculous, but we lived in areas where the assault rate was not that low.
- Be mindful of the conditions outside and inside. We dress right for the weather with all the right gear, but sometimes, we need to know when to call it a day. If it’s too hot, too cold, flooding, thunderstorms, whatever the weather, don’t put yourself in danger to finish the run. And listen to your body. Don’t push through pain just to finish a run and possibly get stranded in an unfamiliar area with an injury. Don’t go on long mileage runs without water and fuel and risk passing out. Seems basic, but I’ve seen runners do this.
- Choose your route wisely. If you’re running alone, try to be familiar with the route. Try to vary your routes, and don’t post them on the web if you don’t need to. Choose well-lit and well-marked roads, as well as roads without a lot of traffic. When there’s a lot of traffic, drivers are paying attention to other cars, not necessarily you.
- Stay lit. Wear reflective clothing, vests, belts, etc. to be visible to people around you. I’ve seen a number of people running early in the morning on the road with all black on and no reflective strips on their clothing. Even if I’m an alert driver, I can’t see them. It’s best to wear something on your arm or leg so the light is moving and better noticed by drivers.
- Assume they can’t see you. You could be lit up like the Fourth of July, but don’t assume that the drivers can see you. It’s best to give the car the right of way. Stop at traffic lights and don’t run in front of cars that are stopped at intersections, err on the side of caution.