Running safely…

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=road+safety&iid=5081122″ src=”8/6/c/c/Cross_sign_on_9650.jpg?adImageId=9333370&imageId=5081122″ width=”234″ height=”347″ /]Generally, running is a pretty safe sport. We don’t have ginormous line backers charging at us and we’re not flying down the slop of a snow- and ice-covered mountain at high speeds with poles. But running isn’t without its risks. Running outside, and especially running in highly populated areas, comes with it’s own set of cautions and needs for safety considerations.

Case in point is that in Toronto over the last 10 days, there has been 10 pedestrians killed — nine by vehicles, one by a train. Among the victims have been a woman in her mid-30s, three senior citizens, and a 28-year-old woman pushing her 7-week-old son in a stroller (her son survived).

During the winter these dangers can be even more pronounced when we’re often running in the dark and having to navigate snow and ice on the sidewalks. I can’t count the number time where I’ve been nearly hit by someone rolling through a stop sign, looking left while turning right, and so on. And while those who drive vehicles bear a large portion of the responsibility, there is also a need for us foot-traveling-folk to remember an important truth: when a vehicle and a body meet, it will always be the body that looses.

These types of tragedies are completely preventable, so in the interest of keeping us all a little safer out there on the roads, here are some things that we as runners can do:

  1. Wear clothing and/or gear with reflective materials on them (or add reflective strips). This makes you instantly visible to vehicles. You can also add a headlamp to this not only to make you visible, but so you can see your path better as well.
  2. Carry identification: There are a number of companies, such as Road ID, that offer easy to use identification systems. Or you can simply put your id in your pocket. Some important information that should be included is your name, address, phone number for family or friend, blood type and any medical conditions that may be relevant.
  3. Music: many of us (myself included) love to run with music, which means that we must be that much more vigilant about being alert, or chose not to run with music.
  4. Watch for car doors.
  5. Slow down at all intersection, and don’t assume a car will stop where it’s supposed to.
  6. Run against traffic (even on the sidewalk) so there is a better chance of vehicles seeing you, and you can see them.
  7. Look directly at drivers, making eye contact.
  8. Be aware of streetlights, signs and crossing timers. Runners should be the example we want to see.
  9. Make sure your friends or family know your favourite routes and if possible, let someone know where you will be running (and likely return time).
  10. Trust your intuition.

Other recommendations for safety in general, include:

  1. Carry a quarter or a cell phone for an emergency call.
  2. Don’t wear jewelry.
  3. Run in areas that you are familiar with.
  4. Avoid unlit areas, especially at night.
  5. Carry a whistle or noisemaker.

Have I missed something? What are your suggestions for playing it safe while running?

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