March 8th was a sad day in the running community as marathoner Sally Meyerhoff died after being hit by a pickup truck while she was cross-training on her bike. Sally was considered an elite U.S. marathoner, having already qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials with a winning time of 2:37:55 at the recent Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix.
I learned some important information about drivers, traffic, and pedestrians in a book I read awhile ago called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), by Tom Vaderbilt. I blogged about it before, but a few critical points are worth repeating below. The findings are equally important for runners, walkers, and those on bikes.
- Pedestrians think drivers can see them up to twice as far away as drivers
- Drivers often have no clue about how fast they are driving. In a study measuring the speed of drivers as they passed children waiting to cross a street, drivers thought they were going at least 12 mph slower than they actually were (i.e., they thought they were going 18-25 mph when they were actually doing 30-37 mph).
- During night driving, according to one expert, a driver would have to be going no more than 20 mph to ensure seeing every potential hazard in time to stop, including, say, a runner in reflective clothing.
- Above 20 mph, drivers begin to lose eye contact with pedestrians, and the chances of a pedestrian dying if hit by a car increase dramatically.
You can read more about Sally in this article from The New York Times. Have a safe weekend.