By Brittany Jackett, Marketing DirectorAs seen in the October 2014 issue of The Town Courier
As we approach the - dare we say it - cold winter months, daylight hours become a precious commodity. We often rearrange our fitness/running routines this time of year to catch additional hours of daylight. Waking up earlier, extending our lunch break for a run or even sneaking out of the office a few minutes early in hopes of catching those last bits of sun and light.
Sometimes though, making schedule changes and salvaging daylight just isn't possible and we are forced to take to the street as the sun is setting and darkness blankets the trails and roadways. While there's nothing wrong with running at night or in the wee hours of the early morning, being properly equipped to take on the darkness is essential to staying safe. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2012 over 4,700 pedestrians were killed, up over 6% from the previous year. Furthermore, over half of those accidents occurred at night, despite the fact that there are significantly fewer cars and pedestrians during that time.
Don't become a part of these statistics. There are so many ways to be seen while out on a run or walk at night, most of which are commonsense solutions. When running in the dark you increase your odds of being seen and avoiding an accident by not only wearing brightly colored, but primarily highly reflective clothing. The key is reflectivity; bright colors, even in the dark can be difficult to see (especially in a fast moving car, driven by an all-too-often distracted driver).
With this in mind, here are some tips to staying safe while running or walking in the dark:
1.WEAR REFLECTIVE CLOTHING: Your local running store is loaded with tons of great apparel that is decked out in reflectivity. The great thing about new technology is that most of the apparel looks normal (non-reflective) during the day, but as soon as light hits the item it glows brightly! Remember, bright colors are not a substitute for reflectivity. Test this out for yourself at night in your driveway.
2. FLASHING LIGHTS: Attaching flashing lights or wearing a lighted/reflective vest will help draw added attention to you and help to ensure you are seen. Lights are a great, inexpensive way to add an extra level of visibility to your attire.
3. GET A HEAD LAMP: So far we've only mentioned being seen by traffic, but it is also critical that you can see where you are going while running or walking in the dark. A headlamp is a great solution to illuminating the path before you.
4. RUN ON THE CORRECT SIDE OF THE ROAD: All too often runners are spotted running with traffic. It is much easier to jump off the road if you can see the car coming towards you. Always run AGAINST traffic. In ideal situations, plan your nighttime runs/walks in areas with sidewalks.
5. LEAVE THE TUNES AT HOME: Yes, many of you will scoff at the idea of not listening to your favorite jams while out on your run, but being able to hear what is going on around you - hear a car approaching in the distance, hear an attacker or animal lurking in the brush along your route, is only possible if you are not zoned out listening to your loud music.
So next time you sleep through your alarm and have to work at the office late, grab yourself some reflective gear, throw on some blinky lights and lace up for a night time run! And to be extra-safe out there, grab a friend to cover the miles with you!