Don't be cheap or too cool to be safe outdoors at night

by Adam Stuhlfaut, Director of Running

I find it truly amazing how many people do not take their own personal safety seriously when it comes to running, walking, walking a dog or biking outdoors.  This time of year, the days are dark for more than twelve hours a day.  The weather is bad.  The road conditions are bad. The drivers are worse. Even good drivers have a hard time seeing people out walking their dog in the dark. My neighborhood, in unincorporated King County, has no street lights and tall trees that block moonlight. It’s tough to see the road, much less a walker fully dressed in dark colors. One stat I read recently was that 70% of pedestrian fatalities happen when its dark.  Why wouldn’t one take every safety precaution when exercising outside? 

70% graphic

I recently read through this stream of discussion on the Letsrun.com message board and was shocked to see the resistance from some of the folks to taking any night safety running precautions.  The argument against are just poor and range from “the products are too expensive” to “I am in total control of my surroundings.” Both of which are incredibly bad arguments. 

To the misers out there unwilling to spend money one safety, I counter with the obvious argument is that your life is worth much more than the money you would spend.  Plus, many inexpensive options exist, such as a $10 blinking LED light from Nathan. 

To the people who assume they are in total control, you are not.  Your idea of control is a myth. That you can dive, ninja like, away from any potential hazard is just not realistic.  You cannot control the way a car skids off a sheet of black ice.  You cannot control the steering wheel for a drunk driver.

There’s also the “too cool” for safety argument that is related to the ninja argument, and is not even worth the time. 

Personally, I run with a 280 lumen headlamp, a reflective vest and two different blinking lights. Anytime I think it might be too much, I think of my wife and two kids.  I want to make it home to them every time.  I’d run with a glowing bubble around me if I could. 

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