7 Running Safety Tips

As the weather turns nicer here in Western Washington and summer approaches, it’s likely more of us will take to running outside. Running is a great way to exercise, reduce stress, and clear one’s mind. Unfortunately, runners can be vulnerable road users. Each year, more than 3,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are involved in crashes in Washington State. Take the time to review these running safety tips before lacing up your sneakers.

Tip 1: Tell Someone About Your Plans

Always let someone know when you are about to go on a run. Besides this, let them know your general route and about how long you expect to be gone. Live alone? It’s still a good idea to text a friend of your whereabouts.

In addition, there are a couple of apps that can help you share your location. Garmin Connect’s LiveTrack and Strava’s Beacon features allow runners to share their location in real time with a friend or family member. Using a service like this could be particularly beneficial if you’re running a new route or attempting a longer distance.

Tip 2: Make Yourself Visible

One of the great thigs about being a runner is you have good reason to wear neon colors and bright patterns! These can help keep you safe. For relatively little money, you can also buy a safety vest and headlamp for those early morning or late evening runs.

Tip 3: Assume Cars Won’t See You

Drivers are conditioned to watch for other drivers – and not motorcyclists, bicyclists, or runners. Always slow down when approaching intersections, crosswalks, or driveways. One scenario many runners don’t consider is a car making a right-hand turn. Often, drivers will look left before turning right and fail to check right before turning.

If a sidewalk or paved trail is unavailable, run to the far left side of the road, facing traffic. When crossing a street or driveway, work to make eye contact or wave to acknowledge drivers. These tactics can help keep you visible and safe.

Tip 4: Mind Your Headphones

Ideally, you shouldn’t wear headphones when you’re out running. Being aware of your surroundings is critical and headphones can dull that awareness. However, we understand that for some runners, listening to music, an audiobook, or true crime podcast is part of the bit. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Turn the volume down LOW. If you can’t hear an approaching runner or bicyclist, the volume is too high.
  • Consider removing one of the earbuds. This leaves one ear completely available to pick up sounds around you.
  • Purchase bone conducting headphones. Aftershokz, a newer brand of headphones, do not cover your ears and allow for situational awareness.

Even so, use your best judgment to know when any type of headphone is best left at home. Running in a new location or when visibility is poor may be times when you need total focus – and quiet.

Tip 5: Carry a Phone (Charged!)

While carrying a phone may feel like a bother, we think there are several good reasons for doing so. Most notably, you never know when you may encounter an emergency – either yours or someone else’s. If you’re several miles from home, you could be in trouble.

Plus, a phone can be useful if you get lost or need a great selfie for Instagram. (OK, that last one wasn’t essential, but you get our drift.)

Tip 6: Choose Your Routes Wisely

Make sure to put some thought into your route before you head out the door. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Does the route offer a lot of sidewalks?
  • Is the area well-trafficked and well-lit (particularly if it’s early/late)?
  • Are there likely to be any loose or aggressive dogs in the area?
  • Am I fit and hydrated enough to tackle this route?

Try to avoid running in areas that force you onto roads, particularly ones that have sharp curves or steep hills and reduce the chances of oncoming cars spotting you. If you’re running in a new location (say, during travel), take some time to research popular running areas ahead of time or opt for a hotel treadmill.

Tip 7: Consider Your Local Track

We’d like to end this post by making a final suggestion. While considering routes to run in your neighborhood, don’t forget your local track!

Tracks are great because they are free of obstacles and free of cars. Some tracks are lit, so you won’t have to worry about packing a headlamp for an evening run. Many middle school and high school tracks are open to the public outside of school hours (and a few are considered parks and open during school hours). Plus, you’re also likely to meet other walkers and runners who share your fitness interest.

If You Have Been Hurt

We hope that our post has provided you with a few useful running safety tips. In the unfortunate event you’ve been hit by a car while running, it’s free to speak with one of our personal injury attorneys.

We’ve worked with many clients on pedestrian and bicycle accident claims. Please, reach out and we can inform you of your legal options.

If you liked this post, you might also wish to read:

Everything You Need to Know about Electric Bicycle Laws in Washington 

What To Do If You’re Approached by an Aggressive Dog 

Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise in Washington State

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