Safety Tips for Runners

safetyA couple of years ago I was on a morning run in a residential neighborhood. It was a fairly quiet street and I wasn’t concerned with the lack of a sidewalk or shoulder. A car approached and I didn’t become concerned until I realized that it was headed straight for me.

The distracted driver was applying makeup in her rear view mirror and I was forced to jump off the road into the ditch.  My heart was racing after that and I hope the driver learns to use her bathroom mirror in the future for any makeup application

Unfortunately, there are a lot of idiots out there on the road and runners need to learn how to avoid potential problems and protect themselves.

Runner’s World Magazine found that in 2009 there were more than 20 runners who were killed by cars or trucks. There is the additional risk of danger from the unsavory human element of society. It is always important to be alert and aware of potential problems. Here are some safety tips to follow.

  1. Run with a partner
  2. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back
  3. Wear ID ( or put your driver’s license in your pocket
  4. Avoid running in deserted areas or in unsafe parts of town
  5. Vary your route and routine
  6. Stay alert- the more aware you are the less vulnerable you’ll be
  7. Don’t wear earphones- if you have to listen to music keep the volume down and don’t put both earbuds in
  8. Take notice of your environment and the people around you
  9. Follow your intuition- if your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is
  10. Run clear of parked cars, bushes, and dark areas
  11. Run against traffic (left side of road)
  12. Be prepared to move over for traffic
  13. Try to make eye contact with the driver
  14. Don’t assume cars can see you, they could be texting, picking something up, putting makeup on, or any number of distracting things
  15. If the same car drives past you more than once, get the license plate number and car description, make it obvious that you see the car, but keep your distance
  16. If you are confronted: run toward a more populated area (generally there is safety in numbers), ignore verbal insults and harrassement, and keep moving
  17. Do not stop to approach a car to give directions- try pointing or shrugging your shoulders, keep moving
  18. Do not panic

Night or Low-light safety

  1. Run against traffic
  2. Be visible- wear white, yellow, orange or other light colors
  3. Wear a reflective vest or headlamp
  4. Carry ID
  5. Vary your routes and times- predictability can make you an easy target
  6. Run with someone else
  7. Carry your cell phone
  8. Watch out for bikes and other runners
  9. Don’t wear music or anything that will decrease your attention from your environment
  10. Follow your instincts, an alert runner is a safe runner

For tips on dealing with aggressive dogs see the article “Dog Safety”.

If you follow these safety tips for runners, you should be on your way to a safe and enjoyable exercise experience.  Happy running.

5 Responses to Safety Tips for Runners

  1. Delores Danzer March 9, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    This is valuable information Angie. Thanks!

  2. Jon August 4, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    This is great info. I was recently confronted by a driver who almost hit me when he made a short left turn (drifting over to the left side of the road). As I accelerated and lept over the curb to get out of the way, I made the mistake of cursing out loud and the physco driver slowed the car down beside me to curse me out and call me all sorts of names. I just kept running and eventually the idoit had to get going when another car pulled behind and gave him the horn (of course he cursed them out to, lol). But word to the wise, there are a lot of crazy people out there.

    • Angie August 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

      Hi Jon. What a crazy experience. As runners we really have to be responsible for watching out for our safety. Unfortunately there are a lot of potentially dangerous situations out there on the road. Stay safe!

  3. Raul March 13, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Run with my ID and a cell phone?! Wow. One does not realize how foolish one is until someone else makes a reasonable suggestion. Thanks, guys. This topic has been on my mind as of late since I have begun running longer distances on paved roads AND early in the morning before dawn. Keep up the good work, Angie and Trevor. The podcasts are outstanding!

    • Angie March 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      Hi Raul. I’m glad that you’re enjoying the podcast. It’s easy to get stuck in our routine and not realize that we could be doing something to make ourselves safer. Keep up the great work and happy (safe) running!

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