Like many of you, I have always enjoyed the outdoors...walking, running, biking, hiking etc. However, recently, I have been more concerned about my safety, (getting older and more cautious) when doing these activities on the side of the road.
Almost 15 percent of all motor vehicle injuries to people happened to those not in cars but while walking, running or hiking. In fact, over 4,000 walkers or runners were fatally hit by a motor vehicle according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These statistics continue to increase as the number of distractions to drivers increases (phone calls, texts, etc). Consequently, walkers, runners and cyclists must be more aware than ever to prevent injury from motor vehicles.
Five high risk factors for walkers, runners and cyclists:
- After dark
- At rush hour in high traffic
- Walk or run “with” instead of “into” traffic flow
- More than one other person with you
“Runner’s World” offers the following recommendations:
- Leave word. Tell somebody or leave a note at home about where you plan to go and how long you plan to be out. That way your loved ones will know to come look for you if needed.
- Protect yourself: If your route is in a high crime area, avoid dawn and dusk, carry self-defense spray, exercise with a partner, leave jewelry at home and vary your route and routine.
- Identify yourself. Run with proper ID, and carry a cell phone with emergency contacts taped to its back.
- Pretend you're invisible. Don’t assume a driver sees you. In fact, imagine that a driver can’t see you, and behave accordingly.
- Face traffic. Except for cyclists, walking and running “into” oncoming traffic is best. It’s easier to see, and react to, oncoming cars. And cars will see you more clearly too.
- Make room. If traffic gets heavy, or the road narrows, be prepared to move onto the sidewalk or shoulder of the road. When walking or running into traffic, stay as far left as possible. When biking, favor the far right side of the road.
- Be seen. Wear high-visibility, brightly colored clothing. When out near or after sunset, reflective materials are a must. (If you don't own reflective clothing, a lightweight reflective vest is a great option.) And use a headlamp or handheld light so you can see where you're going, and drivers can see you. The light should have a bright LED (drivers see blinking red as a hazard).
- Unplug your ears. Avoid using iPods or wearing headphones—you need to be able to hear approaching vehicles. If you do use headphones, do so with the volume low and just one earbud in.
- Watch the hills. When they crest hills, drivers' vision can suddenly be impaired by factors like sun glare or backdrops.
- Beware of high-risk drivers. Steer clear of potential problem areas like entrances to parking lots, bars, and restaurants, where there may be heavy traffic.
- Watch for early birds and night owls. At odd hours be extra careful. Early in the morning and very late at night, people may be overtired and not as attentive.
- Mind your manners. At a stop sign or light, wait for the driver to wave you through—then acknowledge with your own polite wave. That acknowledgement will make the driver feel more inclined to do it again for the next walker or runner. Use hand signals (as you would on a bicycle) to show which way you plan to turn.
- Stay on the right and obey traffic rules
- Wear a helmet
- Use hand signals when turning
- Wear visible clothing and have reflectors on your bike
- Carry a tire patch and first aid kit
- Maintain your bike
- Watch for pedestrians, parked cars, loose gravel and cracks and potholes.
Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.
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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician.
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