By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsJanuary 28, 2020
With winter temperatures remaining unseasonably high, Fort Knox Safety officials are again warning fitness enthusiasts to exercise caution and follow policies when walking and running around post.
These warnings come after a number of near misses involving motorists and fitness seekers, many of whom involved civilian runners.
"Most of the time what we see is a lot of civilians out there running around the post," said Joe Colson, Fort Knox Safety officer. "The military generally follows the rules."
A big concern for safety officials is the amount of people exercising early in the morning virtually unnoticed by motorists. Several runners and walkers are working out in dark clothing with no illumination to alert motorists to their presence.
"During low-lit hours and hours of darkness, they should at least have reflective material on," said Brian Wood, a Fort Knox Safety specialist. "They need to be seen by drivers, so it's important to wear highly visible material; even a light if they want to carry one in their hand, or a headlamp."
Earbuds and headphones continue to be another concern.
"The policy clearly states that no earbuds or any ear device will be worn on roadways. They can only be used on closed tracks, like the Fort Knox High School track," said Wood.
He explained that even Brooks Parade Field doesn't constitute a safe place to walk or run with earbuds on because it is open and accessible by automobile traffic. Also, the policy doesn't allow for even one earbud or device in.
"They may not hear the vehicles coming or be able to pay attention to their surroundings," Wood said. "It's distracting; that's why no earbud is allowed to be worn on any sidewalk adjacent to a roadway whether you're walking, jogging or running."
Wood said locations where sidewalks yield to roadways also pose dangers for runners. Whether they are intersections, crosswalks or side roads, runners should get in the habit of yielding and ensuring no motorists are coming.
"Before they enter a crosswalk, they should make sure vehicles are stopped in both lanes," said Wood. "Even if there's not a crosswalk available, runners should come to a complete stop and make sure the traffic's not turning right into the areas they're trying to cross."
Wood said even the best of intentions can lead to a dangerous situation. Recently, he came to a crosswalk, made sure he had eye contact with the motorist who stopped for him, then proceeded across the road only to be nearly clipped by the impatient motorist.
"I was where the double yellow lines are in the middle of the crosswalk and they stepped on the gas, and went through the crosswalk when I was on it," said Wood. "You know the movie "Matrix" where he leans back? That was me in the crosswalk."
Wood also advises that runners run with a buddy or two on established trails around post, plan the run route ahead of time with someone who knows where the runner plans to travel, and avoid wildlife if encountered.
All of this advice adds up to one conclusion, according to Wood.
"You have to be vigilant at all times, especially now that we're coming into the March-April springtime frame," said Wood. "We're going to have more people out running, walking and jogging as the weather continues to warm up.
"Just pay attention to your surroundings."