Nighttime runners must take safety precautions

Ethan Elkins

“There are monsters in society that will do us harm,” said Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo at a press conference in April while addressing the shocking murder of a UT student on campus. In accordance with the victim’s mother, he asserted that students should learn from this tragedy to be vigilant, no matter how safe they interpret their environment to be. This advice should hold true especially for runners. Those who exercise during hours of darkness must do everything they can to make safety a top priority.     

With the University of Texas being one of the largest schools in the country in one of the largest cities in the country, the dangers on and around campus cannot always be controlled.

“Any community has more concerns when comparing nighttime to daytime,” said UT Police Department Chief David Carter on the safety of campus. He advises any students on foot to be aware of the recommendations of the school’s “BE SAFE” campaign, a simple three-part effort advising students to be cautious.

The first point, “Walk With Me,” urges students to travel in numbers. The idea is that a group is safer and more aware than an individual can be. If a person is running around at night with their earphones in, they are more prone to distractions, so it is best to have a second pair of eyes observing their environment. A partner can also increase motivation to run further while minimizing risk.

The campaign’s second point is “Be Aware of Your Surroundings,” which Carter stressed goes along with being responsible. “Physical fitness and running are important, but we want students to do that in the safest way possible,” he said. He explained it is easier to be observant while running along a well-lit path compared to going off-road.

The final point of the campaign is “Call 911.” UTPD has made efforts to increase patrols and surveillance after the tragedy last semester, but these officers are not in direct sight at all times. “We will always respond to our community running at night,” closed Carter.

These points were also stressed by Ryan Camarillo, vice president of the Texas Running Club, who does not deem campus to be a safe place at night. Camarillo typically runs at night if it is his only choice. “I always try to run in a pair. Another key thing is to tell someone where you are going,” he said.  

“I would stay away from Guadalupe,” Camarillo added, explaining Clark Field is the safest and best lit area on campus, complete with yellow emergency help boxes. When pushed, these beacons alert UT to deploy help immediately.

Nighttime running does not need to be taboo. For many students, it is the only time they can insert exercise plans into their busy schedules, so it is of the utmost importance that students utilize the tips of the “BE SAFE” campaign to decrease vulnerability. In the words of UTPD Chief Carter, “We want to be visible and observe, as should students.”

Elkins is a journalism sophomore from Tyler. Follow him on Twitter @eeelkins97.