With the relief of cooler weather, we also bid farewell to precious hours of daylight. When you’re awake before the sun or out after it says goodnight, being visible could save your life. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, 75% of pedestrian fatalities in traffic crashes occur in the dark. You must be proactive to stay safe while running in the dark.
Drivers’ eyes never become completely used to driving in the dark because of constantly changing lights. With low beams on, eyes can only see about 250 feet at best, which leaves only a few seconds to notice a runner in the darkness. Couple this with slow reaction times from fatigue, being distracted by phones, or just being in a hurry, and it becomes even more dangerous. If you want to run safely in the dark, you need to take your safety into your own hands. Never rely on a driver to see you.
Tips to run safely at night
- Be visible from all directions, and use a combination of reflective elements and lights. You want to see and be seen, so a simple headlamp isn’t enough. Blinking LED lights and a visibility vest are safe choices.
- Vehicle headlights are focused low, so take advantage by lighting up your ankles and legs. Put reflective details on your extremities, such as reflective shoelaces or clips on your shoes, carry a handheld water bottle with reflective strips, or use a reflective tape like Safety Skin that goes directly on your skin.
- Stick to a running path or sidewalk to avoid drivers altogether. If running on roads is your only option, run facing traffic. If you can see a car coming, it’s easier to get out of the way.
- Leave the headphones at home. If you can’t hear a car, you put yourself at a much greater risk of being hit. Plus, headphones block out surrounding noise so you may not notice another pedestrian or cyclist approaching.
- Assume you are invisible. Take added precaution to warn drivers of your presence, and when in doubt, cross behind drivers waiting to turn. Pedestrians may have the right of way, but that does not guarantee a driver will see you.
As we move into the dark days of fall and winter, put safety first. Light yourself up like a Christmas tree, bring along other nighttime running gear, and think from a driver’s perspective about visibility.
Do you have questions about finding the right fit for your feet? Stop in and talk to anyone on our staff. We’ll be happy to help!
Rachel Randall is the go-to girl for all marketing, media, and events at Fleet Feet Sports. She has run more marathons that she can count, including the 2017 NYC marathon in November.