About this time last year I was running near my in-laws house on some back roads near Highland, Ut. The temps were chilly and it was dark. With not too many sidewalks in sight, I had to run on the shoulder of the road. This can be especially nerve racking when a car comes up on you. Are they going to move out of the way? Are they going to see me? Are they going to slow down?
As one particular car drove towards me that night, they slowed down and moved out of the way which told me they saw me. As the car started to pass me, a teenager stuck his head out the window of the car and yelled out to me, “Safety nerd!”
I expected to hear “run forest, run” or some other non-inspired insult, but this was unexpected and appreciated! I did look like a Christmas tree out there which was the point. But if that means people can see me and it makes me safe while running in the dark, then I guess I am a safety nerd. I don’t want to be hit by a car and will do what I can to ensure my own safety.
When it comes to running safely in the dark, don’t put it on someone else’s shoulders to see you. It’s your responsibility! But how do you do that you ask? See the safety nerd tips below.
10 Safety Nerd Tips on how to be safe while running in the dark.
1. Wear a reflective vest. Wearing lightly colored or white clothing is not enough for cars to see you at night. Wearing a reflective vest greatly increases the ability for cars to see you when it’s dark. Some reflective vests can reflect up to 1000 feet away! A car will be lucky to see you 100 feet away with white clothing on and then it’s usually too late. When a car is driving nearly 50mph, 100 feet isn’t a lot of time for them to react. Also the reflective tabs on clothing and shoes generally are not enough reflective material to really draw attention. A vest is always better.
2. Wear a head lamp. This does two things. It allows cars to see better and it also helps you see where you are going. There is nothing worse than stepping into that water filled pot hole or spraining your ankle in it because you can’t see the ground.
3. Wear blinking lights. This also helps cars to start seeing you before their headlights can. People’s eyes will be drawn to it. Wearing one on your shoes and then having one on your backside makes you light up and makes you easy to see.
4. Wear a hat or visor with a brim. The hat can act as a buffer between your scalp and the head lamp to make it more comfortable. The hat can also block the light of oncoming cars so you can see where you going easier.
5. Run against oncoming traffic. That way you can see what’s coming towards you and you can react faster if there is a problem.
6. Run on the sidewalks when possible. Staying off the roads is safest way to run at night. You just have to watch out for cars driving in and out of their driveways and intesections.
7. Run with numbers if possible. If you run in a group, it makes everyone more visible and also can prevent anyone from harming you as easily.
8. Never Assume. Assuming someone sees you is a sure fire way to get hit. When it’s dark you can’t make eye to eye contact with a driver. So when you and a car come to the intersection at the same time, give the car the right of way. Wave them through and wait for them to go. Also, instead of running in front of a car sitting at an intersection, run behind it.
9. Communicate. Take your cell phone and tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back. This one is pretty self explanatory.
10. Run on a treadmill. If you are not comfortable running out in the dark, then don’t . Use a treadmill and run in the comfort and safety of your home or local gym.
If you follow these safety tips, you too can become Safety Nerd like me and be safe while running in the dark.
Written by Scott Dickey
SLRC Staff Member