As I drove home today I was reminded of the importance of proper road running etiquette. Yes, I saw someone running on the wrong side of the road. Again. It is frustrating to drivers and dangerous to runners if proper road running safety is not observed. To minimize the chances of a tragic accident, consider these road running safety measures.
- Run against traffic. That’s right. The rule is that you run/walk facing traffic. This should be common sense. This way you can see the car coming, and more over to safety if the car doesn’t appear to be slowing down and moving over. It’s astonishing how many people I see with their back to traffic. How do they know if a car sees them? How do they know if they need to move onto the shoulder for safety?
- Run single file. I know full well that running groups like to clump up and chat on those long runs. Try to be very conscious about keeping it two people across. And when a car comes up go single file.
- When in a large group run, let everyone behind you know what’s coming up. Yell “car up!” if you’re the first to see it. This will alert the runners behind you to fall into single file line.
- Wear reflective gear. Even in the daytime it can be hard to see runners on the side of the road. Black clothing at night makes you invisible to oncoming traffic. So no matter if it’s day or night, make sure traffic can see you. At minimum wear some reflective gear during the day. At night you must have reflective wear AND a light. Many safety products are out there to help alert traffic of your presence. Blinking lights, reflective vests, flashlights, etc… Use them. You can never be too safe.
- Consider blind corners. If you’re running the inside of a blind corner with little to no shoulder for safety, it might be wise to carefully move to the other side of the road for better visibility. Use your common sense on this.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones. Look both ways before crossing the road. Trust your intuition about anything that may not seem safe or look right.
- Let someone know where you are. Many GPS watches and cellphones have the capability to track the runner in real time. Use it. Thankfully I’ve never had to use it for an emergency, but there’s been many days where I’ve been glad to have someone tracking me to make sure I was still moving!
- Carry ID and a phone with you. There are several products for runners that provide identification/medical alerts without being cumbersome. It might be lifesaving in an emergency situation.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of safety measures. They are only a few suggestions for you to consider. Talk to local runners and safety officers about how you can keep safe on your local roads. Weather, location, terrain, and local laws all play a role in how you will best stay safe. You are responsible for your own safety. Happy (and safe) running!