Think “SAFETY” While Road Running with Traffic

Michele Gallen

Those Scary Moments We’ve All Encountered

Have you ever been out running or walking and thought “Wow, I don’t think that car even saw me!” Well that’s happened to me and it can be especially scary if you’re trying to cross a road when that happens.

There isn’t much you can do about a distracted driver on the road but there are some precautions you can definitely take. Below is a list of precautions I like to take and things I think about when I’m running on the road or crossing traffic.

Helpful Running Safety Tips

1. Obvious, and I’m sure you already do this but look both ways before crossing the road. (I swear my other tips will get better. 😅 )

2. When at an intersection or trying to cross in front of a stopped car, ALWAYS make eye contact with the driver before you cross. If you don’t make eye contact, you can’t be sure they saw you. If you’re impatient and don’t want to wait to make eye contact, as I sometimes am, go behind the car, NOT in front. Some drivers are oblivious and never even look your way no matter how long you stare at them. So be safe and wait, or once again go BEHIND the vehicle!

Drivers that are turning or stopped at an intersection are the most dangerous ones. They are looking at the vehicles on the road or waiting for a light to turn green, not looking for people.

Personally, I believe that individuals who aren’t out on the roads walking, running, or biking tend not to be as cautious or observant when looking for other people. I’ve been in a vehicle with a friend before and she scared the bejesus out of me when she hardly moved off the white line for a cyclist. I was about to flip out but decided to calmly tell her that cyclists need a lot more room than what she gave them.

3. Bright colored clothing is extremely important during a daytime run. If you are out driving, would you notice someone in a bright neon color first or someone in a dark or neutral color? The answer is obvious, bright neon colors; which is why construction workers on the road wear safety yellow.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Construction Workers - High Visibility


4. I believe reflective apparel for overcast days, dusk/dawn runs and running in the dark is vital. It’s so important to do as much as you can to be seen while running.

According to a 2010 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 68% of pedestrian fatalities occurred during the nighttime. In 2015 NHTSA reported the most common hours for pedestrian fatalities occurred from 6 to 9 p.m., the time when people get off work and head outside for some exercise.

Check out this link to my favorite daily deals for reflective running gear:

5. Don’t wear headphones, listen to your surroundings. Many races don’t allow runners to wear headphones for safety purposes and the race insurance won’t allow it. It’s for safety reasons so that the runner can hear traffic and pays close attention to what’s going on around them.

RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Listening to Music

If I’m going to do a hard workout and need a little extra music motivation, I’ll sometimes carry my phone and play music through the speaker so that I can still hear all the traffic on the road. If I want to use my iPod I just put in my left earphone so that I can still hear everything clearly with my right ear… the ear closest to traffic!

6. Run against traffic so you can see vehicles coming at you on your side of the road. If a driver isn’t paying attention, you’ll be able to see and jump off the road if needed.

Also, it’s easier for vehicles to pass you when running against traffic because even if they came to a stop you’d be able to run past them. If you were running with traffic a car behind you could just trail you instead of passing.

Here are a couple more facts to think about:

  • According to federal data on highway ☠️  fatalities, there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities in 2016 – the highest number since 1990. This represents an increase of 9% over the 2015 totals. – National Safety Council
  • On average, a pedestrian was killed nearly every 1.6 hours and injured more than every 7.5 minutes in traffic crashes in 2015. - NHTSA

Stay Safe Out There

It’s extremely important to be aware of your surroundings while running. Always look both ways and pay attention to traffic. Wear bright colors and reflective clothes to help you be seen by drivers. At the end of the day you need to be aware of yourself and surrounding because you never know where the drivers head is at. Stay Safe!


RUSEEN Reflective Apparel - Michele G.


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