10 Safety Tips for Running in the Dark

With busy schedules and limited hours of daylight, some runners find their only time to run is in the darkness of early morning or evening. Running in daylight is always a safer choice; far more pedestrian traffic fatalities happen at night, for example. So if you do have to run in the dark, make sure to follow these safety guidelines.

1

Always Run Against Traffic

Runner at night with city in background
Tooga / Getty Images

It's easier to avoid cars if you can see them coming. You want to be able to see the headlights of oncoming cars. Avoid busy roads and those with no shoulders or sidewalks.

2

Choose a Well-Lit Route

It might not be your favorite route to run, but the most well-lit route is your safest choice in the dark. Oncoming cars see you better, and you'll always be able to see the road to avoid potential hazards.

3

Be Visible

If you're running in the early morning or at night, even at dusk, wear white, yellow, or orange clothes. Also, make sure you are wearing reflective gear. Although some items (such as running shoes and jackets) already have reflective pieces on them, it doesn't hurt to add more. A headlamp also helps you see and be seen in the dark.

4

Always Have Identification on You

Put your driver's license in your pocket or wear an ID tag on your shoe. Consider running with a Road iD tag bearing your emergency contact information.

5

Vary Your Routes and Times

Potential attackers can study runners' routines and loom in a particularly dark or isolated area. Don't make yourself an easy target by always running the same route at the same time. Be unpredictable.

6

Run With a Buddy

There is strength and safety in numbers. If possible, try not to run alone, especially when it's dark outside. Look for running groups that run at night or early in the morning, if that's what works for your schedule. If you must run alone (day or night), let someone know the route you'll be running and approximately how long you will be gone.

7

Carry a Cell Phone

You'll be able to contact police immediately if something happens to you or you notice anything out of the ordinary. Special cell phone holders designed for runners make it easier to carry your phone with you without disrupting your running form.

8

Watch Out for Bikes and Other Runners

Even if you're running on a path or in a park with no cars, always be aware of other runners and cyclists. Before you stop or turn around, make sure your path is clear. This advice applies to running in both daylight and darkness.

9

Ditch Your Music

Avoid wearing headphones when running outdoors. Cutting off your sense of hearing leaves you at a disadvantage. You can't hear oncoming cars, cyclists approaching to pass you, dogs, or any other potential threat.

If you absolutely have to run with music or some other distraction, keep the volume very low or run with one earbud out so you can still hear what's happening around you.

10

Follow Your Instincts

If you feel that you're entering an unsafe situation, trust your gut and run to a safe location. Call the police if you notice anything suspicious.

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  1. U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Traffic safety facts: 2018 data (Report No. DOT HS 812 850). Updated March 2020.