A new study out of Finland shows that one common mistake puts you at a very high risk of danger when running on the roads. It all has to do with which way you are facing when you run.
The Washington Post shared the study, which revealed that runners—and pedestrians—have a 77 percent lower risk of being struck and injured by a car when running or walking facing traffic.
“Although no federal laws mandate which side you should be on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Transportation Department recommend running against traffic,” adds The Washington Post.
If there is a sidewalk that is, of course, the safest place to be, but should you be running on the shoulder, this is an important reminder (or first time lesson) that you should always run against traffic. Additionally, running in a single-file when with a group—or no more than two abreast—can also keep you out of harm’s way.
“Not only is it safer to run against traffic, but it is also the law in certain states—like Texas—when there is no sidewalk present,” shares Chris McClung, coach, co-owner of Rogue Running and co-host of its Running Rogue podcast. “You need to be able to see oncoming traffic and then be proactive to avoid danger on your own when the car passes.”
McClung adds that if you are running on the sidewalk you can run on either side of the road, however, he still prefers to run against traffic while on the sidewalk so you still have a view of cars should one lose control and jump the curb.
If you are running in the early morning or late at night—or even during weather when visibility is low—you want to take extra safety precautions when running on the roads.
“For visibility, the best thing you can do is wear a light, ideally a flashing one on your body on both sides,” urges McClung. “There are a variety of clip on lights or headlamps available to give you maximum visibility. You can also wear reflective shoes and clothing, but a light provides significantly more visibility allowing cars to see you two to five times sooner than reflective strips.”