As the days get shorter and the sun starts setting at 4 p.m., your daily exercise of walking, running, or biking may suddenly happen in the dark. It is great to get out at night in the crisp winter air, but make sure you take safety precautions as running in the dark is very different from running during the day.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 70% of fatal crashes involving pedestrians happen after dark. Here are some precautions you can take to stay safe during nightly outdoor adventures.
Plan your route:
When walking at night, it is advised to choose a route that you have traveled in the daytime. If you already know the basic layout, it should be easier to navigate when there is less light. If you can, choose an area that is well lit and flat, it will be easier to navigate and you’ll be less likely to trip.
Try to avoid areas with dark stretches and shrubbery where it is hard to be seen. If you are traveling along roadways, make sure to follow all road rules and be extra aware of cars, just because you see them does not mean they see you.
Choose a well-lit path:
When walking at night, it is just as important to be visible to others as it is to be able to see your surroundings. If you don’t live in an area where there is a lot of light from street lamps or shops, bring your own light, either a headlamp or your phone flashlight.
Make sure someone else knows your plans:
Before you leave for your nighttime excursion, make sure to tell someone that you are going out. It can be through a text or phone call or telling someone that you live with. Share with them your route and estimated time so they know when to expect you. If possible, take a buddy with you! There is always safety in numbers.
Wear Reflective Gear:
Headlights in cars are meant to illuminate what is right in front of the vehicle, they are not meant to catch periphery images. So, if you are right in front of a car wearing black clothing, they will definitely see you, if you are on the side of the road walking or jogging and have no reflective gear on, you might blend in too well and not be seen by a driver.
There are all different types of reflective gear, from armbands to dog leashes, to jackets, to reflective tape, make sure there is something on your person that will catch the light.
Always have your phone and keep your hands free:
Make sure to take your phone with you and have it ready to make a call in case of emergency. It is also important to keep your hands free. If you plan to bring things with you, have them in a small backpack. Try not to take too many items with you, you want to be able to react quickly if a dangerous situation were to arise.
Be aware of your surroundings and keep your eyes and ears open for vehicles and/or suspicious behavior. Avoid wearing headphones or talking on the phone, this will distract you from your immediate surroundings and could cause dangerous situations. Trust your instincts, if an area where you are jogging or walking doesn’t feel right, turn around or seek out a safer path.
It is more of a risk to be out and about at night, but if you follow the guidelines above you will be safer and be able to enjoy the outdoors at any time.
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