Running Accident

[ running , accident ]

On January 21, 2010 I was hit by a car while running.

Information Gathering

I got hit by a car while running one night in early 2010. I’m fairly sure it was January 21, 2010. I can’t find any notes or communications to indicate I got hit by a car that day in any of the following places:

However, I’m fairly certain it was this date because this was the last run I did after sundown for the next seven weeks. Once I did start re-introducing night runs, I didn’t run along White Oak Ave anymore. I’m certain it was during my buildup to run the 2010 LA Marathon.

I was stopped near Hatteras and White Oak for one minute and 37 seconds. Which could have been where I got hit. The granularity setting on my GPS running watch at the time was to record my location once every second. The gap in the GPS data looks like this:

T	2010-01-22 04:49:57	34.176701652	-118.518370260	218.4		
T	2010-01-22 04:51:34	34.176737191	-118.518383838	229.0

I probably would not have thought to stop my watch after I got hit. However, I was using the Garmin auto-pause feature during this time which stops the running time of the watch if my moving speed drops below a certain threshold. One minute and 37 seconds does not seem like a very long time to be stopped considering I just got hit by a car. However, I can’t say for certain this wasn’t how it happened. Trauma can impact the way someone perceives the passage of time.

Regardless of the specific date, I know where the accident itself took place: the East side of the intersection of White Oak Ave and Rhoda St in Encino, CA.

Accident Analysis

I began my run at 8:47pm on January 21, 2010. Sunset was at 5:13pm. It would have been quite dark at 8:49pm when my watch auto-paused - presumably because of the collision. I was not wearing any lights - forward-facing or rear-facing. I don’t recall what clothing I was wearing. Running apparel tends to have reflectors built in.

Rhoda Street Accident Intersection

The blue arrow was my running path. I approached the intersection from the South headed North along on the median with White Oak Ave on my left and the smaller N White Oak Ave to my right. There was no signal or pedestrian light at the intersection. The six green arrows show where cars could have potentially crossed my path. I’ve numbered them in the order that I checked them. The car that hit me came from position #6 at my five o’clock - the last spot I checked.

I turned my head just in time to see the car before it hit me. It was a small car, low to the ground. The front bumper hit my left shin. The next thing I remember was lying flat on my chest in a pushup position with my head pointed West.

Potential Factors

Root Cause

Hubris. I recall my belief at the time was that I didn’t need to make cars aware of me. I was aware of them and could avoid them. At night without lights on your person, pedestrians are invisible to cars. This dawned on me all at once while lying on the asphalt taking stock of my injuries. I kept thinking over and over, “I’m such an idiot”. Without my overconfidence I would not have been running at night and certainly not at this particular intersection.



I wasn’t seriously injured. I finished the rest of my ~30 minute run that night. I had scrapes from where I landed on the asphalt and a bruise on my left shin where the car’s bumper hit me. But it didn’t hamper my training in any way leading up to the LA Marathon. I was very lucky.

The driver and passenger of the car immediately stopped to help me. After a few moments, I assured them I was ok. They offered to take me to the hospital and then to give me their information. I didn’t accept either offer. They were very shaken up and concerned for my wellbeing.

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