Jogging and Running Safety Tips
Joggers and runners, watch out! There are lots of things to look for as you run along a road or sidewalk. Loose grates, road debris, cracked sidewalks,and trash are all tripping hazards. Drivers backing out of driveways may never see you until too late. An angry dog may pop out of nowhere and approach you. Keep an eye out for ice or mud at your feet and beware of low branches. Remember, you bear primary responsibility for your own safety.
Pay attention at all times and keep your mind on the most important thing you're doing: sharing the roadway or sidewalk with other people, vehicles, or animals. This directive maysound simple enough. Yet, how often do you see runners and joggers traveling along the roads listening to ipods and radios, or talking on cell phones? It's true that these activities may make the run less solitary and more enjoyable, but it also makes it more dangerous. After all, if you're caught up in a telephone conversation or you're listening to your favorite pop song, you may not be focused on job one, a safe run.
Some "rules of the road" for runners and joggers are the law in many states. Others are just common sense.
- Run on the sidewalks where available and passable.
- Keep to the extreme left of the roadway and face oncoming traffic when you run or jog on the road itself. The law in your state may require it. Regardless, you don't have eyes in the back of your head.
- Visibility is essential to your safety. Jog during full daylight hours whenever possible. Wear bright colored clothing that will help you stand out against the background. Jogging at dawn or dusk, when you may be even less noticeable is especially problematic despite the fact it may be more convenient to jog just before or after work. During dusk and dawn it is more difficult for drivers to see you.
- Nighttime jogging carries many risks and is best avoided altogether. If you must run at night, wear light colored or luminescent clothing for better visibility. Shoes and jackets/shirts with reflective tape are a good choice. Some joggers wear an armband with a flashing light. With fewer people on the streets at night, you may be more vulnerable to assault or attack. Make sure a friend or relative knows the route you are taking and when you'll return. Make sure to vary your route every day.
- Motor vehicles "rule"! Never forget it. When a car or truck and a human being collide, there is no contest. Even if you think you have the right of way, give way to cars and trucks. Stop or step aside whenever necessary to ensure your own safety. Do your part to avoid being the victim of a pedestrian accident.
- Keep your ears attuned to the street noise that surrounds you, be it a barking dog, a honking horn, or the rumble of an engine. These sounds may signal potential trouble. Don't use earphones or a cell phone when you run or jog. They may prevent you from hearing sounds that would alert you to imminent danger.
- Crossing the street can be a dangerous undertaking. Remind yourself of the rules you learned as a child. Before stepping into the road, look left, right, and then left once more. As you proceed across the road, look to the right again before you enter the travel lanes carrying vehicles coming from your right. Vehicles turning a corner or exiting a driveway may have just entered the road in your direction. You want to know where they are.
- Do you ever travel abroad? Do you plan to jog or run when you go? If so, familiarize yourself with the local "rules of the road". When traveling in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, where drivers drive on the left side of the road, you must change your mindset. It's "look right first", not left! This can be a very hard rule for you to remember because Americans "look left first" automatically. You may remember to "look right first" as you cross the first two or three intersections when you're visiting London, but then your mind wanders for a moment. At the next intersection, you automatically "look left first", only to step directly in front of a vehicle approaching from your right.It doesn't matter whether you're running in a country where motorists drive on the right or the left side of the road. If you're on the roadway, run or jog facing traffic. Be aware that, in some countries, traffic in urban areas is chaotic. Drivers habitually ignore pedestrians and their safety. When you travel to foreign countries, consider running off road only. It can be exhilarating and safer to run in public parks or cross country.
- Don't become a crime statistic. Leave your jewelry and money at home. If you must carry money, make it just a few dollars. It is usually a good idea to have identification, a cell phone, and house or car keys with you in case of emergency. A whistle or personal alarm device may provide additional protection.
- Jog or run in the company of others. If your dog is large enough to keep pace with you, let him accompany you. Run in a safe neighborhood. Avoid crime ridden areas or locales filled with abandoned buildings or dilapidated properties. Localities that are heavily wooded, with roads that are poorly lighted or secluded, can also prove dangerous. If you believe you are being followed, head for the nearest public place or occupied building or residence. Don't take chances.
Running or jogging outdoors is good for you. First, there's the fresh air youcan enjoy after a day spent in an office or factory. Running burns calories which can help you lose or maintain your weight. The exercise may also improve your general health by reducing bone loss and controlling high blood pressure. So go for it! Just remember, make your run a safe one!