Dangers to Runners are Highlighted by Williamsburg Death
Runners are common on highways across Virginia. However, a tragic incident in Williamsburg, in which a driver is accused of the drunk driving death of a young athlete, highlights the everyday hazards athletes face on the roads.
Eli Cramer, a 20-year-old sophomore from Milligan University in Tennessee, lost his life when a car is said to have hit a group of runners in Williamsburg. Virginia State Police said the crash happened on Williamsburg Pottery Road near the Lightfoot Road intersection on March 31.
Driver Arrest and Charges
Milligan University said five of its cross country and track and field team were out for a run at about 6 p.m. when they were hit by a red car. Two of Cramer’s teammates were also hospitalized with injuries. Police said the driver fled the scene.
The driver continued down Route 199 where he crashed his vehicle into a traffic median. Police later arrested the 26-year-old driver. He was charged with DUI, DUI involuntary manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, DUI maiming, and refusal DUI, according to media reports. The driver was held in Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.
Hazards for Runners on the Road
Our thoughts are with the family of the promising young athlete who died. This incident illustrates the dangers runners face on the highways. All pedestrians face hazards on the roads and pedestrian deaths have risen relentlessly in Virginia in recent years.
However, runners and joggers face particular hazards. Even drivers who are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs may look out for oncoming traffic and other cars at intersections but fail to notice joggers on crosswalks or by the side of the highway. Runners often spend longer on highways than other pedestrians and may run at dawn or dusk, periods when they are more difficult to see.
Staying Safe while Jogging
If you are jogging on the highway in the half-light, you should bright colors, reflective clothing, and consider lights. Runners should always run against traffic. In contrast, cyclists should ride in the same direction as the traffic. According to Triathlete magazine, research shows significantly fewer car-pedestrian accidents occur when pedestrians walk or run facing traffic than in the same direction. When joggers see a car heading toward them, they have more time to take evasive action. Pedestrians are slow enough to make eye contact with a driver to ensure they are visible before entering an intersection or an exit.
Runners should stick to sidewalks when possible or use bike paths or multi-use trails. In Virginia, it’s the law that pedestrians should use sidewalks where they are available. Of course, in some areas, sidewalks are obstructed, overgrown, or uneven due to trees roots.
If you have to run on the highway, aim for routes that are quieter with lower speeds. Hampton Roads has some very dangerous, fast-moving urban highways that runners should avoid such as Tidewater Drive in Norfolk, Jefferson Avenue in Newport News, and Virginia Beach Boulevard in Virginia Beach.
Runners and walkers should use crosswalks to get across highways. If you are going to run over a hill or around a blind curve, it may be safer to cross to the other side of the road if visibility is better.
It’s safer to run in single file to ensure you are closer to the edge of a highway. Avoid distractions such as headphones while running on the road because music can cause you to fail to hear the noise of a vehicle. If you must listen to music, run with one earbud out so you can hear potential threats or warnings.
Reach Out to Our Law Firm
At Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers, our car accident team has helped pedestrians and runners after they are injured in accidents for years. We routinely sue drunk drivers and have no time for motorists who fail to own up for their actions by leaving an accident scene. Please call us if you or a family member has been hurt.