Which Side of the Road to Run on for Safety

Running Against Traffic
Chase Jarvis

"I run outside a lot and I usually run against traffic. Is that the right way to run on the road?"

Yes, you're doing the right thing by running against traffic. Running so that you can see cars coming at you is much safer than having cars at your back. If you're in the dark or low light conditions, you'll be able to see oncoming headlights. In some areas, it's not even a matter of choice — the law requires that runners and walkers face oncoming traffic.

Drivers have a lot of distractions and they may not see you until the last minute (or until it's too late). But you can take control of your own safety by facing traffic. If a car is coming toward you, make sure you get out of the way, if it looks like a close call. You should never assume that a driver can see you. Remember that many drivers aren't paying attention because they're listening to the radio, talking on their cell phone, or reading a map. Be sure you make eye contact with drivers or wait for a signal from the driver at street crossings before you cross.

Occasionally, you may find yourself on a road with lots of hills or turns where it might actually be difficult to see oncoming cars if you're running against traffic. In that case, then it's OK to run on the side of the road with traffic.

Running on paths or sidewalks is always safer than sharing the road with cars. If you have to run on roads, be sure to avoid busy roads and those with no shoulders or blind turns.

If you're running at night or early morning, be sure you're running on roads with street lights.

Can I Run With Headphones?

Try to avoid wearing headphones when running on roads. Cutting off your sense of hearing leaves you at a disadvantage. You can't hear the oncoming cars, cyclists yelling to move, 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.