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Runners, are you following these safety rules?

Last Modified: May 14, 2021

Sports & Exercise, Safety & Prevention


This post was written by Mackenzie Clark, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, athletic trainer, Parkview Sports Medicine.

As the weather warms up and more of us take to the roads or sidewalks to enjoy a run, it’s important to practice safety precautions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017 an estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in Emergency Departments for non-fatal, vehicle-related injuries, while nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes. Here’s what you can do to make yourself stand out and be safer on the roads.

The rules of sharing the road

There are eight major rules for running safely on the road:

1.Always remember to “bike with, run against” the flow of traffic. Biking is considered traffic, so you ride in the same direction as vehicles on the road. Running is not considered traffic, so you want to run or walk against the flow of traffic. This gives you more time to see oncoming traffic and react.

2.Stick to the sidewalks. If there’s a sidewalk available, run there instead of in the road. Sidewalks are much safer and significantly reduce the chance of pedestrian-vehicle crashes.

3.Be predictable. Use crosswalks to cross the street, looking both ways and looking twice before you change sides of the road.

4.Keep road safety top of mind. Run as far off to the side of the road as possible and try to run on roads where vehicle speeds are lower.

5.Be aware of blind curves and hills. Curves and hills make it harder for oncoming vehicles to see you. If you’re running on curvy or hilly roads, it may be safer to run on the other side of the road – with the flow of traffic – so that you’re more visible.

6.See and be seen. Wear bright colors, a running vest or reflective clothing and use a headlamp if you’re running in the early morning or evening. Always try to make eye contact with drivers as well. This is all about catching the attention of drivers and making it easier for them to see you.

7.Run safely when in groups. Run single-file and use hand signals to communicate as needed.

8.Use all of your senses. Wear sunglasses when it’s bright out so you can see vehicles and your surroundings clearer. Also avoid using headphones, particularly those that block out a significant amount of outside noise. While it’s great to run with your favorite music playing, it can also be distracting or drown out horns, sirens or other road noises that you need to be aware of. 

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