Runners Safer When Running Against Traffic

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You want to go for a walk or a run along a road that has a shoulder but no sidewalk and you cannot decide whether to walk or run with traffic or against traffic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Transportation Department and the personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. recommend walking or running against traffic.

A recent Chicago Tribune article takes note of a study undertook in Finland that looked at data from 2006 to 2010 involving 258 pedestrians being hit by cars.  The study concluded that facing traffic when walking is significantly safer than walking with traffic. The study found that pedestrians facing traffic had a 77 percent lower risk of being hit and injured by a car than pedestrians walking with traffic.

The reasons appear to be obvious.  When a pedestrian is facing on coming traffic, the pedestrian can see and react to the motorist.  If the motorist is distracted by texting or by talking on the phone and is driving near the shoulder, or if the motorist is sleepy and is weaving and drifting near the shoulder, the pedestrian can react by getting farther from the roadway when the car is passing. Attorney, Peter Zneimer has handled an injury case where a runner was hit from behind by a car while running on the shoulder with the victim receiving no warning whatsoever.   In that situation, the runner would have been much safer facing traffic when running which would have enabled him to watch for cars driving near the shoulder and to take defensive measures when necessary.

The Chicago Tribune article encourages runners to practice “defensive running” which includes facing traffic when running, and watching oncoming cars for any potential trouble.  Runners are also encouraged to attempt to make eye contact with motorists to confirm that the motorists sees them.  Additionally, as common sense would dictate, runners should wear bright colors like orange and yellow to make themselves more visible.