Runner going through finish line

Car-Proofing Your Run- What?!

In the last week, I have nearly been hit by a car twice on my runs. 

YES- I did say runs. Or in my case my preferred walk/jog (Wog– see here for more).  Until recently, I thought cycling was the most dangerous leg of triathlon, based on the number of near car collisions I had while training for Ironman Arizona. (For a discussion on cycling and car road safety, see here).

Yesterday, I had to jump out of the way, yelling at a driver who narrowly avoided running me down in the middle of a subdivision intersection, sheepishly mouthing “sorry,” before rapidly driving away. He didn’t see me shaking, my need to sit on the curb and cry for several minutes. Didn’t hear my inner battle- do I call my husband to pick me up and go home? Do I finish this run?

The previous near miss, I was also in the middle of crossing a neighborhood exit, when an SUV came rapidly into the intersection, only stopping when I realized it was heading right for me and I yelled. At the speed the SUV stopped, it was clear to me the driver had not been paying any attention to the road. Maybe his phone.

A friend of mine lives in a nearby neighborhood, where a well-loved local resident was killed by a drunk driver at 0400 in the morning. While jogging on a curb. I pass the memorial every time I run through that neighborhood.

National statistics say that in 2015: 

  • Almost 5400 pedestrians were killed in US Traffic crashes. 
    • That’s one pedestrian killed every 1.6 hours. 
    • Another 400,000 were injured at some level, with over 130,000 requiring ER visits.
  • Not all were runners, of course- this includes all pedestrians. But that is HUGE. Most were-
    • urban
    • non-intersections
    • at night
    • Alcohol was involved in a significant portion of the events (either driver or pedestrian).

None of these data points meet my 2 near hits- they were daylight, in suburbia, in intersections, and I was brightly dressed (just an extra). And while running hurts like crud, I didn’t pre-medicate with any alcohol. The woman killed jogging at 4 am was on the side walk, for crying out loud.

What can YOU do to keep yourself safe from cars on a run? 

  • Stay alert. BE A DEFENSIVE RUNNER. Assume the drivers are texting on their cell phones and drunk, and you probably won’t go wrong.
  • Headphones are fun, but wearing them keeps you from focusing on your surroundings, and from potentially seeing or hearing that driver veering at you.
  • Run ON THE SIDE WALK whenever possible. Runners who resort to running in the street along the traffic, take a risk into their hands. Try to route your run to be on roads with sidewalks.
    • If you do run on the side of the road, ALWAYS:
      • RUN TOWARDS the vehicles- If the cars veer off the road, you have a better chance of getting out of the way in time.
        • Exceptions: when running up a steep hill with blind traffic coming at you and when going around a turn.
      • Look directly at the driver’s eyes to be sure they are actually paying attention (Hard sometimes with the smoked windows)
  • Run in DAYLIGHT in bright clothing
    • If you must run in the evening or night, wear reflective clothing and blinking lights, head lamps, etc…anything to make the driver realize you are there.
  • Not drinking and running ought to be an easy one, although I know plenty of runners that will tip the cup either before or during a run. Some running events hand beer out along route or are drinking oriented (some hash harrier groups drink throughout their run event, as opposed to at the end). Think about what you are doing. At least make an educated decision.

Run Safely!


For some data, articles, and perspective, see:


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