Automotive technology is an impressive thing. New cars now come with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection alerts to warn drivers if there’s a pedestrian in their path.

This should make the roads safer for runners, right?

Wrong.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently conducted tests on a closed course using cars that had automatic braking and pedestrian detection and pedestrian dummies, according to The Verge (https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/4/20898773/aaa-study-automatic-emergency-braking-pedestrian-detection). The results were not ideal.

The adult dummy pedestrians crossing the road were struck by the vehicles 60 percent of the time, in daylight conditions at 20 mph. After switching out the dummies with child-sized versions, the vehicles performed even worse, with collisions taking place in 89 percent of situations. Similar results were found during tests done at night and at higher speeds.

So what does this mean for runners? It means don’t let your guard down, no matter what technological wonders come along down the pike (including the possibility of self-driving cars on the road someday).

Even with all that tech in action, those poor pedestrian dummies were getting hit more often than not. And this study doesn’t take into account the increased level of distraction that is all-too-common with drivers these days. When you’re stopped at a traffic light sometime, look around at other drivers and count how many are looking at their phones or doing other tasks like eating, applying makeup or who knows what else. It’s amazing there aren’t more accidents.

Don’t expect drivers to see you and even if they do, don’t expect them to stop for you. Better to be overly cautious when you’re running than take the brunt of a 4,000-pound vehicle slamming into you.

The Road Runners Club of America offers the following rules for running on the road (and trails):

Run against traffic if running on the road. If running on the sidewalk, travel on the right and pass on the left.

Never run more than two abreast if you are running in a group. Don’t be a road hog.

Don’t run down the middle of the road.

When running an out-and-back route, don’t just make a sudden u-turn at your turnaround point. Stop and step to the right to allow oncoming traffic the opportunity to pass. Ensure the road is clear of oncoming traffic then make your u-turn. Making a sudden U-turn without looking over your shoulder is a good way to get hit.

Alert pedestrians when you are passing them with a simple “on your left” warning. Don’t assume they are aware of their surroundings.

Be alert on blind curves.

Stop at stop signs and ensure oncoming traffic yields to you before proceeding across a road. Don’t assume cars will stop if you are entering a crosswalk.

In general, it’s a good idea to know what’s going on around you while you’re running. That means if you’re listening to music or something else on your phone, keeping the volume at a reasonable level so you can hear if a car or person is approaching. It’s fun to get lost in the music while you’re in the middle of a long run, but it’s less fun to get sideswiped by a motorist who’s as distracted as you are. This is especially important as you pass by side streets and driveways where a driver pulling out may be looking for other cars or in another direction and then suddenly speed onto the road just as you’re running by.

When you’re waiting to cross an intersection until the light changes, wait an extra beat before starting to run after the light turns green. Just in case a driver decides to blow through that red light. I’ve seen this happen many more times than it should.

Another key is to make sure drivers can see you, especially when you’re running at night. I’m always surprised to see runners on the road at night wearing dark clothing; I’m glad I see them, but I hope other drivers are as attentive. Wear reflective clothing and use a headlamp, blinking vest or even a flashlight to make sure you stick out in the dark.

This is all common-sense stuff, but it’s also important. Don’t rely on drivers to avoid you on the road. Be smart and stay safe out there.

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Starts and stops:

Grace’s Run 5K run/walk is set for Sunday, Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. at Truth North Ale, 116 County Road, Ipswich. The event hopes to raise awareness of congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) and support the National CMV Foundation. Visit https://fundraise.nationalcmv.org/o/en/campaign/graces-run/nationalcmv for more information.

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The Purple Heart Trail 10K and 1K Fun Run is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 10 starting at the Patton Homestead on 650 Asbury Street to Patton Park and back. The Fun Run starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 10K starts at 9 a.m., both from the Patton Homestead’s Great Lawn. The Fun Run circles the Patton Homestead along the wood road by the Ipswich River. The event is sponsored by the Patton Homestead and co-sponsored by the A.P. Gardner American Legion Post 194. Funds raised will help further the mission of the Patton Homestead. Visit https://pattonhomestead.org/purple-heart-trail-road-race-nov-10-2019 for more information.

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On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to jay.kumar@gmail.com.

 

UPCOMING RACES

Sunday, Oct. 13

Notch Sunday Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 11:30 a.m. Free group 5K or 10K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Wednesday, Oct. 16

Danvers 5K Fun Run, meets at Panini Pizzeria, 11 Maple St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Run starts and finishes at the corner of Elm and Page streets, near the Danvers Fresh Market Place. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 6:30 p.m. Free group 5K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Thursday, Oct. 17

Gentile Run Club, ABV: 3.1, 59 Park St., Beverly, 6:30 p.m. Free weekly 5K run from the Gentile taproom through Beverly and back.

Weekly 5K from True North Ale, 116 County Road, Ipswich, 5:30 p.m. Free, weekly timed 5K from the brewery. Visit https://www.truenorthales.com/pages/thirsty-thursday-brewery-run for more information.

Notch Brewing Meters for Liters, Fortune Bar, 12 Friend St., Amesbury, 6:30 p.m. Free group 5K run from the bar. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Saturday, Oct. 19

The 9th annual Knights On the Run 5K, North Andover High School, 430 Osgood St., North Andover, 9:30 a.m. The Knights in Training kids’ fun run starts at 9 a.m. All proceeds to benefit the North Andover Athletic Association. Visit http://www.knightsrun5k.com/ for more information.

The 14th annual Witch City 5K, Salem Willows Park, 167 Fort Ave., Salem, 9 a.m. Post-race event includes costume contest. Race benefits the Salem YMCA Corner Stone Initiative. Visit https://www.northshoretimingonline.com/reglive2017.aspx?eventyear_id=1585 for more information.

Sunday, Oct. 20

The 40th annual Topsfield Fall Foliage Classic, Proctor School, 60 Main St., Topsfield, 1 p.m. Event includes 5-mile and 5K races and a 3-mile Family Fun Walk, all of which start at 1:30 p.m. A 1.25-mile Fun Run starts at 1 p.m. Visit https://www.northshoretimingonline.com/reglive2017.aspx?eventyear_id=1641 for more information.

The Boxford Trails Less Traveled Running Festival, 665 Main St., West Boxford. Kids’ 1K Fun Run starts at 9 a.m., 5K, 10K and 5K Fun Walk start at 10 a.m. Hosted by the Boxford Trails Association and Boxford Open Land Trust. Post-race party includes an Ipswich Ale Mobile Beer Tap. Visit https://www.northshoretimingonline.com/reglive2017.aspx?eventyear_id=1621 for more information.

Around Cape Ann Half Marathon, O’Maley Middle School, 32 Cherry St., Gloucester, 9 a.m. Visit http://www.yukanrun.com/AroundCapeAnn-HalfMarathon.html for more information.

Notch Sunday Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 11:30 a.m. Free group 5K or 10K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Wednesday, Oct. 23

Danvers 5K Fun Run, meets at Panini Pizzeria, 11 Maple St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Run starts and finishes at the corner of Elm and Page streets, near the Danvers Fresh Market Place. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail adam@danvers5k.com.

Meters for Liters, Notch Brewing, 283R Derby St., Salem, 6:30 p.m. Free group 5K run from the brewery. Beer and pretzels provided to runners after the run. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

Thursday, Oct. 24

Gentile Run Club, ABV: 3.1, 59 Park St., Beverly, 6:30 p.m. Free weekly 5K run from the Gentile taproom through Beverly and back.

Weekly 5K from True North Ale, 116 County Road, Ipswich, 5:30 p.m. Free, weekly timed 5K from the brewery. Visit https://www.truenorthales.com/pages/thirsty-thursday-brewery-run for more information.

Notch Brewing Meters for Liters, Fortune Bar, 12 Friend St., Amesbury, 6:30 p.m. Free group 5K run from the bar. Runners who complete 10 runs (aka 50,000 meters) will receive Notch swag.

 

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