Runners keep eye on roads

Distracted drivers could be growing problem for runners, bikers

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011 6:11 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011 9:18 AM
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Runners stretch outside Nacho Mama's Restaurant on Broad Street before a run. Increasing numbers of distracted drivers mean runners need to be more cautious.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Runners stretch outside Nacho Mama's Restaurant on Broad Street before a run. Increasing numbers of distracted drivers mean runners need to be more cautious.

Jim Christian has some advice for the runners he coaches as they jog along city streets, particularly at busy intersections: Make sure the driver sees you. “Always make eye contact with them, because you never know what they are going to do,” he said.

That could become increasingly difficult, and those streets could be a growing hazard for people trying to get fit, a new study says.

Writing in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Preventing Chronic Disease, Dr. Matthew Lee Smith of the University of Georgia sees two conflicting trends. With the growing rate of obesity, there is a greater need for people to be physically active in their communities through walking, biking and running. At the same time, the number of drivers distracted by handheld devices such as cellphones is growing, he said.

“So the question becomes, ‘Are we send­ing people out into unsafe environments?’ ” said Smith, an assistant professor in the De­partment of Health Promotion and Be­havior in the College of Public Health at UGA.

The answer is yes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated there were 3,092 deaths in distraction-related accidents in 2010. Those distractions are bound to increase. The Highway Loss Data Institute Bulletin reported that the number of text messages sent increased from 14 million in 2000 to more than 150 billion in 2010, and could increase 50 times that by 2020. A survey from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that more than one in three people admit to often or regularly talking on the phone while driving, and nearly one in four texts or e-mails while behind the wheel.

Accidents from distracted driving recently prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to call for a complete ban on cellphone use while driving unless it is an emergency, which might be tough to implement.

What might make the difference is awareness on both sides – drivers aware that more walkers, runners and bicyclists might be out in the streets, and more awareness by non-motorists that drivers might not see them, Smith said.

“(Drivers) need to be aware there is going to be a lot more potential for this interaction,” he said. “It’s just as much a responsibility (for the non-motorist).”

What would help is a multidisciplinary approach to designing healthier communities with these issues in mind, he said. Christian, a running and triathlon coach who leads Team in Training and other groups, said he tries to
take no chances, particularly at intersections.
“I never trust people at all,” he said. “I will wait and definitely make eye contact.”

Waiting outside Nacho Mama’s restaurant on Broad Street for his weekly running group to start, Glen Jackson called it “defensive running,” saying that runners have to develop a sense of what a driver is going to do.

“You can tell, when a car is coming at you, whether it is going to get over or not,” he said.

Comments (13) Add comment
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broad street narrow mind
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broad street narrow mind 12/27/11 - 08:37 pm
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good idea from deke's
Unpublished

good idea from deke's minister of aerobics except that making eye contact in this town while prancing around in underoos seems scarier than getting run over.

david jennings
580
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david jennings 12/27/11 - 08:54 pm
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What a no brainer.

What a no brainer.

Willow Bailey
20580
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Willow Bailey 12/27/11 - 08:55 pm
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bsnm, good to see you back.

bsnm, good to see you back. I've missed your comments; well, most of them:)

augusta citizen
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augusta citizen 12/27/11 - 09:33 pm
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broad street narrow mind,

broad street narrow mind, funny!

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 12/28/11 - 04:11 am
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Sidewalk-, bikepath-, and

Sidewalk-, bikepath-, and greenway-expansions, anyone?

corgimom
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corgimom 12/28/11 - 07:52 am
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“Always make eye contact with

“Always make eye contact with them because you never know what they are going to do,” he said.

That's so interesting- where I live, bicycle riders and joggers are unpredictable and violate traffic laws on a regular basis- so I always make eye contact with them because I never know what they are going to do.

Running red lights, cutting across lanes of traffic, travelling the wrong way, failing to yield the right of way- you name it, they do it.

What's even worse is when they are wearing headphones and CAN"T HEAR traffic noise because they are so distracted.

Interesting.

firstamendment23
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firstamendment23 12/28/11 - 08:45 am
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The streets are built for

The streets are built for cars to drive on not bicycles. A car driving 55 mph meeting another car can't safetly move around a bicycle going 15 mph. Runners need to find a track or park somewhere to run around in and not down the streets. If not available, run around your house or back and forth across your yard.

stillamazed
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stillamazed 12/28/11 - 09:22 am
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Thank you corgimom, I see the

Thank you corgimom, I see the same thing all the time. I think that distracted drivers are a danger to everyone, but I also think that runners and bikes are a danger also. Just the other day I sat at the red light and watched a guy on a bike stop briefly and then go right on through the light. If he had been hit some people would be blaming the driver of a car. Everyone needs to stay focused whether running, biking or driving. You can't blame this all on people who are behind the wheel when you have irresponsible runners and bikers out there. And by the way, with all the tracks and safe running areas around why do runners have to be on the streets anyway?

Little Lamb
45360
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Little Lamb 12/28/11 - 09:29 am
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This so-called problem can be

This so-called problem can be solved by applying the following principle:

In any close encounter between two objects, assume the object with the greatest momentum has the right of way; and act accordingly.

Oh, yes, don't forget the following definition:

Momentum = Mass X Velocity

Riverman1
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Riverman1 12/28/11 - 09:36 am
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You know a decade or so back,

You know a decade or so back, we didn't have this many bikers being hit by motorists. What do you think has changed? I have an idea. Y'all?

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 12/28/11 - 10:19 am
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cell phones, riverman?
Unpublished

cell phones, riverman?

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 12/28/11 - 10:20 am
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cell phones for drivers and
Unpublished

cell phones for drivers and ipods for runners.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 12/28/11 - 10:22 am
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i just looked at the photo.
Unpublished

i just looked at the photo. nacho mama's has wine?

allhans
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allhans 12/28/11 - 10:34 am
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Selfish motorists?

Selfish motorists?

MM28
2
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MM28 12/28/11 - 12:30 pm
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All jokes aside, people are

All jokes aside, people are getting killed. Awareness/education on both sides is key. There are going to be an increasingly growing number of motorists, walkers, runners, and cyclists in the coming years. We have to learn to co-exist and all follow the rules of the road.

RunningMan
346
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RunningMan 12/28/11 - 12:59 pm
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As I have said before. "It's

As I have said before. "It's a runner's thing, you might not understand". I would rather not runner on the road, but there are times, particular around my home, when I want to run 5 miles or more and the road provides the best option. Treadmills are good, but running 40 minutes on it can get boring. When I am running on the road, I never assume the person behind the steering wheel of a vehicle has my best interest on their mind, so I treat them as such and give them lots of space. The way folks drive, I will not ever thrust them on the road. I apply the same logic when biking or even driving on the road. Simply put, trust no one on the roads.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 12/28/11 - 02:06 pm
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running and biking in augusta
Unpublished

running and biking in augusta just isn't safe. public transit is horrible and not even seven days a week. our green mayor better be polishing those bike racks on the buses (that anthony esposito pushed for, not deke) because i think it's the only environmentally good thing that's happened durign his reign. dear city leaders who want to attract young professionals, this is why they won't come here.

countyman
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countyman 12/28/11 - 06:24 pm
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We need to get behind the

We need to get behind the Augusta Greenway linking the Medical District and Downtown..

The city needs to push for new sidewalks /bike lanes for Wrightsboro, Windsor Spring, Deans Bridge, Gordon Hwy, Laney Walker, Washington, Broad, Reynolds, and Wheeler rd...

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