The roads can be dangerous, and those clues are often the visual histories of a driver losing control and leaving the travel portions of the road.
Often it is just the luck of the draw whether or not you happened to be there when a car veers off the roadway. According to the National Safety Council, 90,000 bicyclists, runners, and pedestrians have unlucky encounters with cars and 7,000 of them die as a result.
Luck on your side helps, of course, but running defensively is your best protection. In general, your job is to make yourself easy to see. Don't wear dark or muted colors. Use reflective vests and outerwear, flashing lights, and neon colors. Look for running attire with reflective fibers spun into the whole cloth. Make sure that drivers have no trouble seeing you, no matter what time of day you run.
After making yourself as visible as possible, then run as though you're invisible. By assuming you might be hard to see, you will make optimum use of your own defensive thinking.
Always run facing traffic. This may be a major concession for those who have trouble with repetitive-stress injuries that are due to the beveled road surface, but the risks of running with the traffic are too great. You may have to find an alternate course that doesn't cover canted roads.
Here are some safety tips to improve your odds of preventing an encounter with a vehicle that's too close for comfort.
Road running is inherently dangerous. Vehicles approaching you at 60 mph, for example, are covering 88 feet per second. Since your reaction time is about three-quarters of a second, on average, once a swerving vehicle is within 66 feet of you, you won't be able to react defensively.
Unfortunately, a good bit of your time on the road is spent within those little envelopes in which your fate depends largely on others and good fortune. Your best chance to avoid injury is to practice defensive running, anticipating the possibilities long before they are out of your control.
John Kelling, Windsor, CT is a member of The American Running Association
Vol. 19, No. 10, Running & FitNews
Copyright, The American Running Association.
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