Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You Saw Me: Runner Safety {+ product review}

"I didn't see you."

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As someone who regularly runs in the pre-dawn hours of the early morning, I don't want a motorist to be able to say that to me — ever. Worse, I don't want that motorist to have to say that to a law enforcement officer at the scene of a crash.

According to Road ID, a company that makes identification bracelets and shoe tags for runners, 122,000 runners a year are taken to the hospital after being hit by cars. ... In a report by Transportation for America, a public policy organization promoting improved infrastructure investment, between 2000 and 2009 more than 5,300 pedestrians were killed each year in vehicle-related accidents.

Runners need to take precautions to not only be seen but recognized as a person. There's reflective vests, illuminating night gear, blinking lights, LED bands.

And I've worn all of them, thinking I was doing my best. But there were still close calls. There were times when cars took longer to get over than I would have liked. Fast cars swerved just a few yards from my feet. The blinking lights, the vest only visible when the headlights hit me at just the right angle.

My early morning gear included other things, too. Things that helped me see the path in front of me and avoid dangers such as sticks, walnuts and snakes — a head lamp, Knuckle Lights — but on the side of the road, to a motorist, the lights can seem fixed or a part a landscape.

"I didn't see her," the motorist might think as he approached me.

But that's no longer the case.

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For the past month, I've been wearing the You Saw Me vest. The vest is unlike anything I had ever seen, with 60 embedded LEDs to refract an active lighting source with the ability to dim, flash, and automatically cycle between colors. It also has an ANSI-certified reflective outer layer to reflect oncoming light (i.e. headlights). The lights, according the company, can be seen up to a mile away.

There are front and back pockets that allow you to store cellphones, keys, cards, money, etc. and an adjustable waistband for comfort.

When I run in this, I never have to think, "Does that car see me?" I know they do.

BRF Tami, who bought the vest after seeing mine, and I both notice that cars get over sooner and farther when they approach us on the road. The lights, which are in a V-shape on the front and the back, also illuminate our faces. Motorists don't just see the vests — they see us as people. We've also found that lights are bright enough that it helps us see the path before us. With Daylight Saving Time, we've been able to manage with just the vest — no other lights.

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I don't just love this vest for its safety; I love it because of the company. You Saw Me is a small outfit out of Lexington, Kentucky. When I shamelessly approached them to review the vest, I didn't get an email. I got a request for a phone call. The next week, I spoke with co-owner Seth McBee for more than a half-hour. We talked about the vest and social media, running and close calls. I learned about the craftsmanship that's put in the vest and how his partner Kevin took years to develop what is now being sold.

I also learned that this company couldn't, and wouldn't, give its product away to any blogger willing to shill it. The vests cost money to make and as a new company, You Saw Me isn't selling them with a large profit margin. If I wanted to get it, I needed to be authentic and enthusiastic when it comes to sharing the product on my social media channels and in my running community. It's a deal I was willing to make.

So, full disclosure, this vest is not mine for free. If three readers/friends purchase it using the code "healthy strides" (free shipping!), I can keep it. Otherwise, I ca pay for the vest full price — $60 — or send it back.

But I already know that I will happily send a check to Seth and You Saw Me if you aren't into it. My safety and peace of mind is worth $60.

A couple of FAQs/notes:

  • The vest does feel heavier than other reflective vests because of the lights. I was worried that it would feel burdensome when I ran but to my surprise, it did not. I do know it's there but my arm swing and pace are just fine.
  • There is a wide, adjustable elastic band with a snap belt to secure the vest. It goes through two loops each on the front and back. I have not had a problem thus far with the belt chafing. I do make sure it is snug so as to keep the vest itself from not moving and chafing elsewhere.
  • The power source for the vest is a 9-volt battery. I thought this was a bit weird, and it can be awkward to put on if you haven't had a full cup of coffee. It is nice, though, that you don't have to seek out the manufacturer for replacements and can use rechargable batteries, as well. 
  • The vest is washable though I have yet to do that. I put it on my passenger seat, over the head rest. I'm sure both smell like Macintosh Apples thanks to Yankee Candle air fresheners. 
  • Seth also suggests these vests for cyclists and motorcyclists. I say if you need to be seen, you need this vest.


  1. I agree with you, you can't really put a price tag on your safety. The only time I ever wear reflective gear is for Ragnar. I just don't run where I need it any other time. I love that you've found something that makes you feel safer!

  2. Sounds like a great product, and I'm glad to see you supporting a passionate start-up. I can't afford it right now (and am not running in the dark much these days anyway) but I will bookmark this company and share on social media as well.

  3. Oh man, I totally respect that company from how your described them!!

  4. For safety purposes, high visibility Safety vest and Reflective tape are going to make you far more visible.