How to Stay Safe While Running at Night

Six important rules every runner should follow when running in the dark

Especially during winter when sunlight hours are limited, many runners are forced to complete their outdoor workouts in the dark.

Such a commitment to exercise is respectable, but whether you hit the road in the early morning hours before the sun has a chance to rise or you’re lacing up your sneakers at night after it sets, you’ll want to consider a few important safety precautions before you put your feet to the pavement.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), after “failure to yield right of way,” poor visibility is the second largest cause of pedestrian deaths—meaning drivers couldn’t see them. The report also found that evening is the most common time for pedestrian fatalities to take place.

In other words, the first thing you want to make sure of before you head out for a night time run is that drivers will be able to see you on the road.

In addition to donning bright, reflective gear, like Pearl Izumi’s Infinity Jacket, light spurs, a reflective vest and maybe even a headlamp, you can also make sure to stay extra safe by adhering to the following safety tips.

1. If you must run on the road, run against traffic.
You’ll want to be able to see the headlights of oncoming cars.

2. Choose a route that’s well lit.
Again, visibility is essential. Not only will drivers be better able to see you, but you’ll be able to see the road better, too.

3. Run with a friend.
If your situation allows, running with a friend (or a group) will always be safer than running on your own. If you have no choice but to run solo, always make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back before you leave. And even though it might be a pain to carry, bringing your phone along with you is always a good idea too.

4. Leave your earbuds at home.
You want to make sure that you’ll be able to hear traffic, or if you’re running in a park, other runners or cyclists. Running in the dark requires that you pay extra attention.

5. Carry your ID
Running with ID ensure that you can be identified by first responders in case of an emergency. This rule applies every time you head out for a run, not just at night, and especially if you’ll be running alone. But because you could lose it, it’s better to invest in a wrist band or pendant ID rather than to carry your actual license.  


6. Switch up your routes and routine.
If you habitually run the same route at the same time on the same day of the week, you could become an easy target for potential attackers. Again, this is another rule that applies to runs at any time of the day, but maybe the nighttime ones a little more so.