Staying safe on the roads


Keeping thousands of high school cross-country runners safe from distracted drivers when training on the roads starts with awareness and education. General coaching mandates for runners include running into traffic and staying single-file on the shoulders of roads, making eye contact with drivers at intersections and looking twice even when crossing with a green light.

Taking precautions: Some programs are going the extra mile. Monticello eliminated some training routes that brought runners through higher-traffic areas. Eastview provided more of runners with utility belts, capable of storing a cellphone, in case of emergency.

Distracted-related deaths up: Roads aren’t getting any safer. Traffic fatalities reached 411 last year in Minnesota, compared with 361 in 2014, a 14 percent increase, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety data. Of those, distracted driving was listed as a contributing factor in 74 deaths in 2015 — a 21 percent increase.

David La Vaque