Safety Outdoors: The Rules of the Road

Safety Outdoors: The Rules of the Road

By Brittany Jackett

The sun seems to be shining a little brighter and a little longer, the air smells sweet and fresh, and everyone seems to have just a bit more pep in their step! In just a few short weeks it will officially be spring in the Kentlands!

This time of year many people begin to head outdoors - walking and running throughout the neighborhood - taking in the change of the seasons and vibrant colors of spring. Although it's great to enjoy your surroundings, it is also essential that you are aware of the 'rules of the road' and pay attention to the activities going on around you.

Even if you aren't new to running or walking, it is always smart to brush up on the ol' rule book. It's been said that on sunny, warm days people feel more powerful, more alive - almost invincible; and while this is great motivation to push through a training run for your first 5K or even your next marathon, it can also be hazardous. Taking on cars or venturing off the beaten path on an unfamiliar route can result in unpleasant situations.

Here are a few key rules to remember when you head outdoors on a run or walk:

1. DO NOT RUN ALONE. Not only does running with others make the activity a whole lot more fun, it is also a great safety precaution. Many local running stores offer fun runs or run clubs to help you find a new running partner or group.

2. RUN AGAINST TRAFFIC. All too often I see people running or walking down the wrong side of the road. Always run against or opposite the flow of traffic. This way you can see the cars coming ahead of time and react appropriately and vice versa.

3. DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES. Alright, I know this can be a tough one, but when you listen to music you are putting your senses in jeopardy. How are you going to be able to hear the warning of a car's horn, the sirens of an approaching emergency vehicle or even someone coming up behind you? (If you absolutely can't live without your tunes, try running with only one ear piece in, but be sure to switch ears half way!)

4. BEWARE OF CARS STOPPED AT INTERSECTIONS. Especially those making right hand turns. Drivers are looking for other cars and often are completely oblivious to a runner or walker. Do your best to make direct eye contact with the driver before entering an intersection.

5. DON'T CHALLENGE CARS. I hate to break it to you, but they're bigger and faster than you. Even if you (as the pedestrian) have the right away at a crosswalk, roundabout or intersection, always make sure the driver has seen you, or even better, acknowledged you prior to crossing.

6. IF YOU'RE RUNNING AT NIGHT - BE SEEN! If you have to run after dark, be sure to avoid running in the streets, stick to well-lit areas and wear bright, reflective gear.

7. LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING. If you are venturing out alone, tell a friend or family member your planned route before you leave and give them an estimated timeframe you'll be gone. 

8. CARRY IDENTIFICATION. Many running stores sell small, easy-to-carry pouches for cell phones and ID. It's better to be safe than sorry. 

Review the rules, share with friends and family and be sure to talk with your kids about safety out on the streets. The spring and summer should be a time for healthy, active fun outdoors - just make sure you do it in a safe, smart way!

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