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How to Not Get Run Over By A Car

It may sound like a joke, but it’s not. I have had many close calls with cars, especially because I live in a very populated area. I usually always try to run in the daylight, but I live in an area where there are a TON of cars, everywhere, all the time. Crossing the street to get anywhere always involves pushing the cross walk button and I’m no expert on life-saving techniques or safety, but I know that I do a few things while running to make sure that cars see me and that I don’t get run over. I thought I would pass these along to blog land so that if you weren’t already doing these small techniques you can implement them and see if they work for you.

Don’t chance it by running across the street fast. I always have to push the button and make sure the light isn’t a ‘stale’ light. Meaning I came up to it and it’s been the current color for more than five seconds. There have been times when I think, oh I’ll just go quick and half way through the street the light changes and I’m caught in the middle, or having to hustle to get to the other side safely. Not smart at all. Make sure you get to the light and if you have to WAIT! Better waiting than getting stuck or the light changing on you half way through the intersection.

Don’t step off the sidewalk until you are sure that you know it’s your ‘turn’ to go. Never wait off the sidewalk and make sure you stand back from the corner of the intersection. There are always freak accidents and you don’t want to be a part of them at all. People are careless and cars are big and could easily injure you with one wrong thing happening. I only step off the sidewalk when I am sure that everyone is certain that I am going to cross the street.

Always make eye contact. I ALWAYS make sure to make eye contact with the driver(s) of the car. Sounds simple, but then you are SURE that you see them. Then, they acknowledge you and you know that they won’t purposely run you over. Once you do that, they seem to recognize that yes, you are a human and you are out for a run. It’s then when things start going better because they either give you a wave to go forward or nod their head to let you know that they’ve seen you. This is especially important on unprotected right hand turns when the light is red for them and they turn and you are trying to cross.

Give the friendly wave. I always try to give the friendly wave as well when running and drivers do pay attention to me. It also shows that I acknowledge them. It makes things easier for other runners down the road as well, because next time they might pay more attention to a runner when they see them out running! I always make sure to do this because it shows also that I appreciate the fact that they took the time to let me cross, even though I have the right away.

We all know pedestrians have the right of way, but that doesn’t always work out and make sure you are safe while running and there are cars around. Especially in the busiest traffic time, the Holiday Season, it is important to take extra caution when crossing the street. I’m working on a post for running in the dark and I’m kicking off the month of December with a giveaway tomorrow!

Do you have the same car problem? What tips do you have?


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  • Reply Muffy Martini

    Really good tips! So scary to see runners after work– since daylight savings time it’s SO dark out!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:17 am
  • Reply RunningOnCoffee

    Great tips! Especially the eye contact part! This might be hard to explain without a diagram, but hubby and I were walking with my in-laws when they visited– we had the crosswalk sign showing us we could walk; we were in the crosswalk; the car to our left had a red light. There were FOUR of us beginning to cross the road, in the crosswalk, and the car began to creep up to turn right on red — the driver was only looking left (we were to the right). The car actually bumped into my father in law, the driver never looked right, and she proceeded to turn without acknowledging that she tapped a person with her car!! I still wonder if she even knows it happened. Luckily he wasn’t hurt- it just amazes me how oblivious drivers can be.

    When I am running against traffic in the shoulder and cars move over to give me extra room, I like to wave at them just to say thanks and acknowledge that they saw me and gave me that courtesy.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:30 am
  • Reply Leigh

    I think all of those tips are great, especially the eye contact one. There are times that I thought the driver has seen me and I should have made eye contact.

    The worst thing is waiting at a marked pedestrian cross walk (without lights) and people see you standing there and they can’t take two seconds to stop for you. Makes me so angry!

    November 30, 2010 at 10:33 am
  • Reply Susie Q

    right of way

    November 30, 2010 at 11:37 am
  • Reply Sarah

    Hi Danica! Thank you for the email!
    I always wait. I look forward to it on long runs because I get a quick moment of recovery. I had a really close call once, which really made me learn my lesson!

    November 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm
  • Reply Aj

    I have seen cars pull into the crosswalk to make a right turn looking only to their right and never once to their left. I am incredibly cautious when running, if I weren’t, I would have definitely been hit by one of these drivers. I always get mad because it’s their fault..but I would rather be alive or unhurt than to push for my right of way.

    November 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm
  • Reply Nelly

    Good tips! Totally agree with you on making sure you make eye contact with a driver if they are making a right turn (since they are only looking left since that is where traffic is coming from). Back when I was in high school I almost hit 2 pedestrians making a right turn and doing this exact same thing (luckily my friend said something in the passenger seat, or else it would have been ugly). I’ve never hit a pedestrian or been hit by a car, so let’s hope the streak continues.

    November 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm
  • Reply nicole

    Ive been almost hit several times…not due to any of the above reasons though. due to idiots not paying attention, or driving too fast. thankfully, i was paying attention & was able to get out of the way!

    November 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply Mike

    I always run behind cars comming out of drive ways.

    I always know the driver does not see me.

    I always check for cars that may be comming into an intersection to turn on the street I am crossing.

    I always wave in appreation of drivers that wait for me.

    I always try to make eye contact, but don’t trust it.

    November 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm
  • Reply Heather @ Alis Grave Nil

    No new tips, but I have def used your tips in the past. Have almost gotten hit a few times, but never hit. I attribute this to making myself seen and doing the things you listed.

    November 30, 2010 at 10:23 pm
  • Reply Brandon

    Hello, Through work, experience, study, and getting hit several times I have learned a few things. Without restating… The more you can insulate and protect yourself the better. Second… and I know this looks dorky but (especially) if you are on a bike wear a bright reflective vest. These are so effective that the french Govt. mandated that they come in every new car sold, to be worn in the event of a roadside break-down. Since they have been implemented, related fatalities are down. Furthermore U.S. federal law mandates the use of class 2/3 vests when working adjacent to a federal highway. The bottom line is they work.
    While wearing a vest pretty much ensures that I won’t be getting a date on a bike or run… at least it gives me a chance. If you are shy about wearing a vest, “neon-lime green & bright orange is all the rage right now. They have athletic shirts/ tops/ sports bras, in these colors. Consider it.

    November 30, 2010 at 11:04 pm
  • Reply Mae

    I always take extra care even though I have the right of way on a run. I lost count of how many vehicles had turned right without looking when I have a green light and right of way at a crosswalk.

    December 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm
  • Reply cindylu

    I had a big scare (like “oh s#!+!”) a few weeks ago while out running in the dark. I had the right of way and the walk sign. The driver in the SUV (on the phone…) never even acknowledged that she almost ran me over. Luckily, I tend to wait to step on to the sidewalk until I know it’s safe to cross. I was shook up and since then, I’ve been really unmotivated to go out and run after work. I also need to invest in more reflective gear or tape.

    I also worry about blind driveways and alleys. I pretty much have to stop to make sure those are clear.

    That said, great tips. I wave and sometimes have to say “stop” to people who want to turn while I have the right of way.

    I’m in LA and encounter lots of entitled, distracted and bad drivers. I’ve seen a couple of car accidents happen on my runs too. Scary!

    December 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm
  • Reply Glenn Jones

    I’m lucky enough to run on bike trails most of the time separate from cars. But when I’m on the street I think the eye contact thing is key.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:39 am
  • Reply Nicole

    Good tips! Most of the drivers around me are courteous and allow the runners to cross. There are some that will completely run the stop sign when they see us coming because they don’t want to stop!
    We also have to be careful up North with ice in the winter. A driver might see you but until you know they are ABLE to stop you shouldn’t step off the sidewalk either.

    December 3, 2010 at 11:14 am
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