Pedestrian Safety Among High School Runners: a Case Series

Sports Health. 2022 Sep 25;19417381221123510. doi: 10.1177/19417381221123510. Online ahead of print.


Background: Participation in high school cross-country and track has increased over the last few decades. At the same time, the rate of pedestrian-involved motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) has also increased. In the context of organized sport, pedestrian safety among runners is often not highlighted, despite the risk of catastrophic injury.

Purpose: To describe incidents of pedestrian-involved MVCs involving student athletes captured by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Study design: Case series.

Level of evidence: Level 5.

Methods: This study utilized surveillance data from the NCCSIR from 2011 to 2020. It presents descriptive statistics, including frequencies and percentages, detailed summaries, and a Haddon Matrix.

Results: There were 8 incidents involving 11 student athletes, resulting in 9 fatalities. Of these, 5 cases occurred in the afternoon or early evening, 4 occurred in the Fall, and 6 occurred in a rural area. Haddon Matrix analyses of case descriptions indicate schools should implement a runner safety program for all new runners and ensure that runner safety measures are included in emergency action plans.

Conclusion: Runner-related MVCs are relatively rare, but tragic, incidents. Pedestrian safety measures should be incorporated into school-sponsored practices and training runs.

Clinical relevance: Pedestrian safety should be incorporated into runner safety and injury prevention efforts.

Keywords: athletes; motor vehicles; pedestrians; safety; youth sports.