Stay safe while running this summer

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Everyday people all over the Ozarks hit the streets to go running, just for the health of it.
Police say it’s a two-way street. Both drivers and runners need to have their head on a swivel so no one gets hurt. Especially this time of year, when a lot of runners are trying to avoid the summer heat and humidity and running when it’s dark out.
Before most people get out of bed in the morning, Shannon Cochran has finished a her run.
“Why is it worth it? Because if you don’t you’re going to get to work, get tired, run your kids around all their activities, and before you know it you’re not going to run,” she said.
Four days a week, the marathon runner is leading a group of runners through Nixa.
She said, “The drivers are finally getting used to seeing us and it’s been eight years. So they’re actually looking for us with our headlamps on now, they’re not just being so surprised by us.”
She’s one of many dedicated runners we met in the Springfield area.
Ozark Runner Sandy Keith said, “I like to run because it keeps me sane. It’s good for your head.”
One thing we heard not once, but several times, is the importance of being seen.
Rod Pennington, President of Ozark Mountain Ridge Runners, said, “Visibility. Be highly visible. Doesn’t matter how you do it, be visible.”
“You’re not wearing the lights so you can see. You’re wearing the lights so they can see you,” said Keith.
Drivers we spoke with said that’s their main concern as well.
Springfield Driver William Wolf said, “They’re hard to see, and if they’re wearing dark clothes, it’s almost impossible for me to see them on the road.”
Cochran says her group is required to wear at least a headlight during their early morning run.
“Prefer body lights as well, but definitely a head lamp or a flashlight. We have little flashers that we can put on the back of our ball caps,” she said.
You can even buy a product that makes your skin reflective.
Eric Johnson, Owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Springfield, said, “This is the newest thing. It’s a roll-on product that you roll it on your body.”
Also, expert runners recommend wearing as much reflective material as possible to make sure drivers see you.
But what are the rules of the road? We asked Lieutenant Stacey Parton, the traffic commander for the Springfield Police Department.
“Inattentive driving is one of our major causes of crashes in Springfield, where people are on their cell phone, or for some reason not paying attention,” he said.
He says that’s why it’s so important for runners to use the sidewalk, when there’s one available. He says in Springfield, it's the law.
But sometimes, that’s just not an option. In some cases, there’s not even a shoulder on the side of road for runners. Parton says if you run into a situation where there isn’t a sidewalk, be sure to run against traffic, on the left side of the road. And he says on future runs, you should consider planning a different route.
Parton says runners have the right-of-way when there’s a crosswalk painted on the asphalt. But he added that even if a driver is supposed to stop, runners should never assume they will.
“Try to make eye contact with each other, don’t assume that you are safe to run out in front of them,” said Parton.
Many runners have their own rules for staying safe.
Springfield Runner Dan Wells said, “When you’re coming to crossroads, and you’re running, I always slow down because you never know if the car coming behind you is going to be turning.”
Cochran says she doesn’t allow anyone in her group to run alone, everyone is required to partner up.
She said, “I don’t allow any headphones. If you’re going to run with the group at group time, no headphones are allowed. No earbuds.”
“I carry my phone with me at all times, and I also share my location with my family,” explained Wells.
Runners say it’s their job to make sure they don’t get hit by a car, so they can keep at it for years to come.
“You’re always going to lose in a battle between a car and a human. So you have to take the responsibility into your own hands,” said Johnson.
Experts say to run in areas that you’re familiar with so you don’t get lost. If you’re running alone, let someone know where you’re going and check in with them when you return.
Also, if you’re going on a trail run, experts say you should take a partner.