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On The Run column: Runners need to stay alert for distracted drivers

The Salem News
By November 11, 2017 No Comments

Anyone who runs on the road knows they have to be cognizant of traffic. That’s just common sense.

But in this age of increasingly distracted drivers, it’s more important than ever for runners to be alert and responsible when they’re pounding the pavement.

Distracted driving is a major public safety issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day in the U.S. approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in car crashes that reportedly involve a distracted driver.

Distracted driving occurs when a driver attempts to drive while also doing something else, whether it’s texting, surfing the web on a smartphone, talking on the phone, eating, watching a video, changing the radio station, etc. This, of course, endangers everyone else who may be on the road, including runners.

Although no official statistics are kept tracking how many runners are hit by cars annually, the CDC says that in 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. Nearly 129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal traffic injuries. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passengers to be killed in a car crash on each trip. We can safely assume that some of those pedestrians are runners.

Earlier this year, Cambridge Mobile Telematics released data that found that 52 percent of car trips that ended in a crash also involved some form of mobile phone distraction, according to the Washington Post. In nearly 25 percent of crashes, the driver was using a phone within a minute before the crash occurred. The company also found that states with cell phone laws restricting handheld use of mobile phones while driving are only slightly safer than those that states that don’t have such laws.

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