Jogging Safety Tips


Do you jog to keep healthy? Good for you! Exercise is good for your health but please don’t let it kill you. Let me explain.

I live in a rural area with few street lights and no sidewalks. Some mornings I drive almost 4 miles before I encounter another car but I rarely go more than a couple miles before I encounter a biker or a jogger. Here’s the problem… it’s dark and with no sidewalks I’m often almost on top of the jogger before I see him or her. I’ve taken to carrying hi-viz safety vests in my car and stop and give them to joggers who aren’t visible enough.

Joggers don’t realize how hard they are to spot, especially when you’re going about 45 mph. So here are a few safety tips for you if you jog, bike or walk your dog, especially when it’s still dark out.

1. As already noted, please wear bright clothing with reflective stripes. You may not want to wear it any other time but making sure that you are highly visible when it’s dark out could possibly save your life. There are all kinds of hi-vis clothing available. Jackets, hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts, pants, vests, coats are all available in hi-vis with reflective stripping. Even if all you wear is a inexpensive safety vest (here’s one for $6.23) drivers will be able to spot you a long way off rather than when they are almost on top of you.

2. If possible, wear a small flashlight. There are inexpensive LED lights that burn for hours that will make sure that drivers see you a long ways off.

3. I know that you love your “Chariots of Fire” or “Rocky” music to inspire you while you jog but if you absolutely must wear your Ipod, please only put one earpiece in. Being able to hear cars, horns and other traffic sounds around you is absolutely essential so one earbud and keep the volume down.

4. Run against traffic so you can see who’s coming and be on the alert. Think defensively. Be prepared and assume that the vehicle isn’t going to see you. Get out of the way as much as possible and prepare to jump out of the way if necessary.

5. Always carry identification on you along with any medical information that might be needed in case you are in an accident. This includes blood type, allergies, medical conditions, etc…

6. If possible, jog with someone else. Two together are safer than a lone, isolated jogger.

7. If you must jog alone, make sure that someone else knows when you’re leaving, what your route is and when you’ll be back.

Staying healthy by jogging does you no good if you end up in the hospital with broken bones and cuts. It does you even less good if you end up in the morgue so please make sure that you get your exercise safely.

Walking / Jogging in the Dark

Like it or not the nights are getting longer and there’s less and less daylight out there which means that pedestrians and joggers aren’t going to be as visible when they go out after dark. With Halloween tonight this is especially timely as small children will be buzzing in and out of cars and running here and there in the dark, often in costumes that aren’t exactly hi-viz. Even once Halloween is safely passed, however, there are plenty of joggers and pedestrians out there after the sun goes down. Here are a few safety tips for joggers and pedestrians who “do their thing” after dark as well as a couple pointers for drivers:

For joggers and pedestrians:

  • Get a reflective, hi-viz coat or safety vest. As much as you might think, looking at yourself in the light of your living room, that you should be easy to spot, you aren’t. Even colors that you consider bright tend to dim and fade into the background as soon as it starts getting dark. Make sure that the coat, jacket or vest has reflective stripes on it. These are especially designed to bounce back light, making you “light up” for passing cars. For maximum safety, consider wearing a class III vest, sweatshirt or coat. Class III rated garments are designed for workers in high traffic areas where vehicles may for going as fast as 60 mph. The standard requires more square feet of hi-viz background material as well as mandates for the amount of reflective material which means that it’s designed for maximum visibility. You might think that it’s overkill but it’s much safer to go overboard than to not be visible enough.
  • Add a Mini-Flasher by Pelican. Because they are LED lights they will burn for up to 130 hours on two coin alkaline cells and they have a visibility of up to 5 miles on a clear night. Turn it on in your living room and it won’t look all that bright but when you’re out there at night it’ll be plenty bright and substantially increase your visibility for vehicles even when they are still a long ways away.
  • Map out your route while it’s still light out. If you want to stay in shape by jogging or if you know that you are going to have to walk somewhere after dark go look at your route while it’s still light out and look for a route with plenty of sidewalk space and areas where you can walk or jog where vehicles aren’t going to be a factor.
  • For maximum safety, consider an indoor track. Most gyms and YMCAs have indoor tracks. Another options is the track at your local school; many of these outdoor tracks are well-lit even after dark and provide a safe place to jog with the added benefit that you’ll be able to calculate how far you’ve gone with relative ease.
  • If possible walk or jog with a companion. Two people are more visible than one and you’ll have the added benefit of safety in numbers to deter would be muggers and rapists.

For drivers:

  • Look for pedestrians after dark. Know that there are plenty of people who are not going to read or pay attention to the safety tips listed above. Anticipate that someone might be walking by the side of the road and that they might be wearing dark clothes.
  • Try to give as much distance as you safely can to the side of the street where pedestrians might be walking. It doesn’t take much for the person on the side of the road to trip, twist is ankle or slip and end up stepping onto the road.
  • Use your brights whenever possible. High beams spread the light out more, lighting up the sides of the road better than your regular headlights which tend to light only the road in front of you.