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Running Safety Basics

By: Allan M. Siegel

Our area is known for having an incredible amount of runners, joggers, and walkers. Whether you are hitting the Capital Crescent Trail for a pre-work run or walking along the Tidal Basin to hit your daily step target, we want to make sure that you are fully versed in the pedestrian safety laws throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Most importantly, all three jurisdictions require you to run on the sidewalk, when there is a sidewalk present. When no sidewalk is provided, then runners must run to the far left of the roadway facing traffic. If a shoulder lane is present, always run in to the far left of the shoulder lane in the absence of a sidewalk. Violating these pedestrian laws can obviously pose a great danger, but you may also pay a fine for running in the roadway when a sidewalk is present.

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When possible, runners should always cross the street in a crosswalk following all pedestrian control signals. You should never initiate a crossing when the control signal says “WAIT” or “DON’T WALK.” Even when the control signal says “WALK,” a pedestrian may never initiate a crossing into the path of an oncoming vehicle when it will be impossible for the vehicle to yield. When it is not possible to cross at a crosswalk, be sure to look to the left and the right before crossing and yield to all vehicles. Even though it may be tempting to cross an intersection diagonally to save yourself from having to wait at a “DON’T WALK” signal, it is never lawful to cross diagonally unless you are following the path of a crosswalk. Also, while crosswalks and control signals are in place to protect us during a run, they do not actually stop motor vehicles. So do not automatically assume it will be safe to cross, rather ensure that you look both ways every time before crossing.

Before you lace up always be sure to have your phone fully charged. Not only might you want your phone to track your run with your favorite app, but you may also need your phone in the event of an emergency. Always be sure to wear bright colored clothing and wear reflective material when running in low light or at night. Some runners also prefer to put an emergency contact and medical information card into their hydration belts as an extra safety measure. In the unfortunate event that you are in an accident while running, be sure not to make mistakes that could harm your potential personal injury case. It is easy for runners to fall into the trap of wanting to finish their workouts and attempt to keep going. These runners often make the same mistakes that people commonly make after a car accident. Be sure to check out our eBook, Top Ten Mistakes Made After a Car Accident, to learn more, and please call us to speak directly to an attorney if you are in need of a legal consultation.