November is National Running Safety Month, when retailers and running advocates raise awareness of safety for runners. People can run outdoors year-round in places like Atlanta, where there is decent running weather in all seasons. But with shorter days and less daylight this time of year, many runners are on the roads at dawn, dusk or in darkness, making it more difficult for motorists to see them and easier for a pedestrian accident to happen.
By following some basic safety tips, you can avoid accidents and keep training.
Running at Night
Many people find the only time they have for running is at night or before dawn. Running in the dark presents unique dangers. Here are some tips:
- Wear bright, reflective clothing and shoes. Worry less about fashion and more about being seen by passing vehicles.
- Run with a headlamp. It might look silly, but it makes you visible to passing vehicles.
- Carry identification such as your driver’s license.
- Carry a cell phone in case of emergency.
- Turn down your music so you can hear someone coming.
- Run with a friend. There is safety in numbers.
- Always be cautious when crossing the street and don’t run in the street unless absolutely necessary.
- Change your route from time to time. Don’t be predictable. While assaults on runners are uncommon, you don’t want to increase your risks.
- Make sure someone knows where you are going.
Prepare for the Weather
Whether you are running in the dead of winter or the middle of a spring thunderstorm, you can take steps to keep from getting sick or injured:
- Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions: hats, gloves, water-repelling jackets, layers, etc.
- If the weather is bad, run a familiar route. Don’t try new locations and routes when you’re already fighting the rain, wind, or cold.
- Run facing traffic. Cars have a harder time in bad weather, too. Even if you are on the sidewalk, run facing traffic so you can see if a motorist loses control.
- Wear reflective clothing, especially in the rain.
Avoiding Pedestrian Accidents
Runners who are distracted by their music, in the zone, or just not paying attention are at a higher risk of serious pedestrian accidents. An injury can curtail your running regimen for a long time.
Like all pedestrians, runners have to look out for vehicles and actively work to prevent accidents. Here are some additional tips:
- Look left and right, and look again before crossing the street. Never assume no one is coming, even after you’ve checked.
- Run behind, not in front, of stopped vehicles. Whether the vehicle is motioning you to pass or not, it’s always a good idea to run around the back of a car rather than risk running in front.
- Make eye contact with motorists to be sure drivers see you.