Author: Attorney Elizabeth M. Allen
The weather is warming up and more of us are taking to the streets to get some exercise. Jogging and running are great workouts, but it is important to remember that as a pedestrian, you bear primary responsibility for your own safety. It’s important to stay aware and alert to hazards when you go for a jog.
Pay attention and keep your mind on the most important thing you’re doing: sharing the roadway or sidewalk with other people, vehicles, or animals. This advice may sound 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 vehicles and other hazards around you.
Run on the sidewalk where available and passable. If there are no sidewalks, then keep to the extreme left of the roadway and face oncoming traffic when you run or jog on the road. The law in your state may require it. Regardless, you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, so it’s smart to face traffic.
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 because 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. These are inexpensive items, and they are available at most sporting goods and athletic shoe stores.
With fewer people on the streets at night, you may be more vulnerable to assault or attack so make sure to vary your route every day. It is also a good idea to always let a friend or family member know the route you are taking. If you suffer a sudden medical emergency or have an accident during your run, someone will know where to look for you.
Motor vehicles “rule”! Never forget it.
When a car or truck collides with a human being, guess who always loses. Unfortunately many drivers do not pay complete attention when they are drive. Instead, they are distracted by a radio, cell phone, or passengers in their vehicle. Do your part to avoid being the victim of a pedestrian accident. 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.
Listen to what is going on around you. Keep your ears attuned to the street noise, be it a barking dog, a honking horn, or the rumble of an engine. Don’t use earphones or a cell phone when you run or jog. They may prevent you from hearing sounds that could 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.
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 whenever you can. If your dog is large enough to keep pace with you, let him accompany you. Run in a safe neighborhood. Look for roads with sidewalks, wide shoulders or wide travel lanes. 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 you can enjoy after a day spent indoors. 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.
About the Author: Elizabeth Morrell Allen has been engaged in the practice of personal injury law for over 30 years at the law firm Allen & Allen. From 1988 to 2004, Beth served as a branch manager of the firm’s Petersburg, Virginia office.