While living in NYC, I felt like I was in a bubble (in a number of different ways, but that’s a whole different post) when it came to running. I ran early in the morning, so didn’t encounter many cars… and most of my run was done in the comfort of Prospect Park, where cars weren’t allowed until much later in the day.
Since moving to Austin, I’ve had to adjust to being back in the world of bad drivers. Seriously, when did everyone become so addicted to their cell phones? It is shocking to see how many people are driving at speeds of 70+ mph without even looking up from their phone screens.
Anyways, even in the neighborhoods it seems like people are even more distracted (I guess the slower speeds mean they don’t have to pay attention as much?) so I’ve definitely had a refresher course for how to stay safe while running.
1. Wear reflective clothing. When we lived in Florida, I ran down the coastal highway (speed limit 55 mph) at night, with no reflective clothing. I wore “light colors” and carried a pen-sized flashlight, which I would turn on when I saw a car coming my way.
Wow, I was dumb. I’ll completely admit it.
You can get some great reflective gear for cheap prices on eBay. It doesn’t have to be runner specific (although Brooks has a pretty sweet line), just something that is bright with plenty of reflection to make sure cars can see you. Find some clip on flashing lights and a headlamp, and you are set to go. Even if you aren’t running on a busy road, it is better to be safe than sorry.
2. Drive a bit further for safe roads. If it comes down to running down a street that has no sidewalks or no shoulder and cars wizzing by at 60 mph, or to run on a quieter road with lower speed limits and some room to run, err on the side of comfort for your run. Driving the extra 5 or 10 minutes will be so worth it and make your run more enjoyable.
3. Run against traffic. When you run, make sure you running on the side of the road where you are against traffic — where you can see the car in your lane coming at you. This will help cars see you better and will ensure that you see cars and their direction a little bit better.
4. Know the weather. Rain, snow, fog… they can all decrease visibility and make it harder for people to see you on the road. Know the weather forecast and know what conditions you should expect on your run. If it’s a daytime run and the conditions are bad, bring reflective gear. If it’s nighttime and the conditions are bad, consider hitting the treadmill or ditching the workout altogether. Safety comes first before getting in a few miles, as much as it will drive you crazy.
5. Assume you are wearing an invisible shield. Oh yes, all of us runners know we are superheroes… but when it comes to drivers seeing you? It’s seriously like you are wearing an invisible shield. Most likely they do not see you, even if they look right at you. Don’t expect them to move over for you, don’t expect them to look your way before pulling out in an intersection and don’t expect them to honor the “walk” sign.
It drives me NUTS that drivers don’t look to the right when they are turning right. They just stare at the traffic coming from the left and pull out when it’s clear… without even regarding what’s coming their way from the other side. Anticipating this will help to a) save you from a lot of anger and b) prevent you from having to add moving obstacles to your run.
And some tips for drivers:
- Look BOTH ways before you pull out into an intersection. It takes an extra three seconds and may save you from hitting someone, runner or not.
- MOVE over when you see a pedestrian, runner or cyclist, out on the streets. You (most likely) have room to move over a few feet, they don’t.
- Don’t honk at runners just because it sounds like a fun thing to do. Honking should be reserved for a true warning sign. Every time a driver honks at me, it makes me jump and look around… don’t make it into the boy who cries wolf type of situation.
- STOP being so obsessed with your phone. The world is not going to end because you can’t look at it for 10 minutes.
What are some things that drive you nuts about drivers when you are out for a run?
Is it just me, or is the phone obsession a scary and dangerous thing!?
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