Colder temperatures in the fall, winter and early spring can actually be a great opportunity for those who like to run or bike, as the high temperatures in the summer can make such exercise dangerously strenuous. Going out for a run in the middle of the fall or the early winter could mean that you never overheat regardless of how hard you push yourself.
Unfortunately, while the weather may be a bit safer for intense exertion, there are other risk factors that you need to consider as well. The possibility of a pedestrian or cyclist getting hit by someone in a motor vehicle may increase when temperatures drop because drivers aren’t watching as closely for pedestrians and cyclists later in the year.
Driver inattention is a major risk factor
One of the top reasons drivers give for causing motor vehicle collisions with pedestrians, cyclists and even motorcycles is that they didn’t see the person or smaller vehicle. Although that may seem like a cheap excuse, the truth is that drivers have more visual information to process than their brains can manage.
Your brain prioritizes what it thinks is most important for your safety when you drive a vehicle at high speeds. The people in vehicles who don’t actively look for cyclists and pedestrians might see them with their eyes but never mentally recognize them.
Inattentional blindness affects your safety when drivers don’t make a point of safely sharing the road with you. That risk is even higher than usual in the colder winter months because there are fewer pedestrians and cyclists on the road.
Must you avoid jogging and biking in the winter?
A total prohibition on cycling or running in the cooler months will not necessarily prevent a collision, and it could have dire consequences for your physical fitness. Instead of staying off the road altogether and giving up outdoor exercise, you may need to just plan ahead.
Wear visibility gear, and plan your route on roads with lower speed limits when possible. Some cyclists and runners may also want to review their insurance coverage, as increasing what they carry might make them feel more confident how about having the protection they need if there is a crash where they get hurt.
Identifying and addressing the biggest safety risks for pedestrian or cycling crashes could help you stay safer on the road.