Along with cooler temps and pumpkin-flavored everything (Cheerios??) come shorter daylight hours and runs in the dark. In today’s age of distracted and aggressive driving, runners and walkers (you too dog walkers!) need to be extra vigilant. Here are 5 of my favorite safe running tips:
1. Run Against Traffic
Running against traffic (i.e. the left side of the road) is the best way for you to see cars and for cars to see you. In heavy traffic areas, move to the sidewalk – but stay alert for bumps by carrying a light.
2. Lights, Lights, Lights!
Think human Christmas tree! Active light sources aid your vision and increase a driver’s ability to see you by six-fold. Wear a headlamp or use a hand-held flashlight to illuminate your path so you don’t trip and can alert on-coming traffic to your presence.
You also want to attach a “blinkie” light or two to your backside, arm and/or shoes as the blinking action of the light makes you more noticeable as a moving pedestrian.
3. Wear Reflective Gear.
Reflective clothing and gear are passive light sources that enable others to see you up to several hundred feet in the distance, giving drivers valuable time to react. The best options provide 360 degrees of reflectivity so that you can be seen from all directions.
Jackets and shorts/tights with reflective prints are the gold standard. You need not dress like a highlighter since new “stealth” reflective technology looks “normal” until a light source strikes it. This technology is available in jackets, tees, tights, compression socks and select shoes.
Another great option when it’s warmer outside is Safety Skin – a special reflective “skin spread” that you can put on your legs and arms. Made with natural ingredients, it washes off with soap and water. It’s the coolest stuff!
4. Tell a Friend (better yet, run with a friend!)
We always suggest running with a friend or group if possible—safety in numbers! However, it’s unlikely you will be able to pair up for every run. Get into the habit of letting your partner, a friend, or a family member know when and where you are going running and when you expect to return. Make sure to tell them when you get home, too!
5. Stay Alert.
It’s up to you to pay attention. Be as defensive as possible. Drivers are often so distracted by their phones, and when you add darkness into the mix, running on the road becomes especially dangerous; Drivers aren’t expecting to have to share their space.
Be extra careful at street crossings since drivers often make right turns without looking for runners. If necessary, be prepared to dive into the bushes – a few scratches sure beats a trip to the ER.
On the flip side, when you are driving be alert especially during the night and low light conditions. Obey the speed limit and look both ways - twice - before turning especially in neighborhoods where sidewalks and their occupants can be obscured by bushes and trees. If you must use your cell phone, use a hands-free device and NEVER text and drive.