Heels & Horsepower Magazine

6 Essential Rules for Jogging Safely

Jogging is one of the most common and popular forms of exercise among South Africans; and as the months get warmer, more and more people can be found running along the road.

Sadly, there are many challenges runners face daily, mainly distracted drivers, poor visibility, blind spots, and motorists driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Although motorists are required to yield to joggers (pedestrians and cyclists), some drivers seem to be stubbornly unwilling to share the road with runners.  As a result, the onus falls more upon joggers to ensure their safety, than it does on other road users.

Here are a few tips to keep runners safe:

  1. Do not wear both earpieces.  Your ability to hear what is happening around you is vital and could save your life by helping you to identify and avoid danger before it is upon you.  Rather, wear one earpiece and keep the volume high enough to hear what is happening around you while enjoying your playlist.
  2. Face oncoming traffic.  While cyclists should ride with traffic, joggers and walkers should go against traffic so they can see vehicles approaching them. By facing traffic, you increase your ability to react quickly should you feel endangered by an inattentive driver.
  3. Stay alert.  It’s ok to enjoy your morning or evening run, but do not, under any circumstances, zone out.  The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you will be.  Here are some examples:
    1. Wave at drivers so they can see you
    2. Obey road rules
    3. When possible, run with a partner, in a group, or with your dog/s.
    4. Look left, right and left again before crossing streets
    5. Approach bends, blind curves, gateways and other entrances with caution as motorists are sometimes more on the lookout for other drivers and not runners.
  4. Wear reflective clothing.  Although the sun rises early in summer and a little late in the evenings, it is advisable to be as visible as possible at all times.
  5. Stay off the road.  Whenever possible, run along the side of the road (shoulders and footpaths), and not on the road itself. When running with others, run in a single file as often as possible.  Running 2 or three abreast is only safe when running on deserted roads but be aware that traffic conditions can change quickly, so pre-arrange how to get into single file when a car approaches.

One of the most important rules of running on the road is that motor cars rule. Yes, joggers by law, have the right of way but when it comes to real-life situations where it’s car vs human beings, cars always win.  Even when you have the right of way, give way to cars and trucks.  Keep your eyes on the road, step aside whenever necessary and live to jog another day.

Watch out for runners

Remember that the rules of the road also give pedestrians right of way in all scenarios

– Eugene Herbert, managing director of MasterDrive

As gyms around the country remain closed, those who would normally take to the safety of these buildings, can now be seen exercising on the roads throughout the day. Drivers need to take care to safely share the roads with many more runners, walkers or cyclists.

The Managing Director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says the first step is to increase your awareness. “Expect the roads, particularly in suburbs, to be busier, especially during peak times in the mornings and afternoons. Keep in mind that people that do not normally exercise outdoors may not be as road savvy as pedestrians who walk to work every day. Give them extra space, at least two metres, to account for mistakes and reduce your speed when passing for both safety and courtesy reasons.

“Remember that the rules of the road also give pedestrians right of way in all scenarios. Thus, you are obligated to give runners or walkers the right of way whenever it is safe to do so. Be wary of pedestrians who are determined to take their right of way no matter what, and who may not necessarily be aware of the danger this involves, for example if a vehicle is speeding up behind you.”

If someone is running while listening to music, they could also be distracted


People should be running against the flow of traffic but do not always do so. “The reason for this is so that they can see if a car or potential danger is coming their way. If you see someone exercising with the flow of traffic, be aware that they cannot see you and if it is busy or they are wearing headphones, cannot hear you. Take extra care around them and avoid hooting at them in case this causes a sudden unexpected reaction.

“If someone is running while listening to music, they could also be distracted. Alternatively, they may even be so focused on their exercise session that they may not be giving the cars around them enough attention. In this scenario it is even more important to pay close attention to them and adjust your driving to give these individuals more room and space in case a mistake occurs.”

Let’s not add to the pressure hospitals could be under due to COVID-19


Adjusting your speed is especially important when sharing the road with people exercising. “As mentioned, it gives both yourself and the road user time to react if something goes wrong. It is also important, however, to slow down if you cannot give them a wide berth and wait until you can pass with a gap between yourselves.

“Lastly, speed needs to be adjusted to the conditions, especially at this time of year. You are likely driving into a glare at some point which could completely conceal a runner or walker. If you are driving in these conditions and on a road where you know people often exercise, slow down irrespective of whether you see someone or not.”

Everyone has the right to use the road safely. “Let’s not add to the pressure hospitals could be under due to COVID-19 and make an effort to safely share the road with those using it for exercise,” says Herbert.