I’ve never been one for scare tactics, but when a friend had a particularly nasty run-in blocks from my apartment, I began to look for ways to keep safe during my solo runs through DC.
One way was to try out Road ID, a free smartphone app that sends friends real-time location updates during your outdoor activity. Contacts can follow your route from start to finish, tracking any suspicious pauses or lapse in activity along the way. Here’s how it works:
1. Start your Road ID session by setting an estimated workout time and choosing up to five emergency contacts. Don’t worry about exceeding this pre-set time—you can add more in 10 minute increments if you’re feeling especially ambitious mid-jog.
2. Select a message to be sent via text to your contacts once you begin, or create your own.
3. Press start and hit the road. A message will be sent to your friends alerting them, accompanied by a link to follow your route online in real time.
4. One of Road ID’s optional features is an alert activated after a certain amount of user immobility. I gave this feature a try and received a warning after five minutes that my contacts were going to be alerted if I didn’t move soon. Sixty seconds and two concerned phone calls later let me know that my friends were successfully notified.
5. At the end of my workout I was able to go online and view my route. This data is saved for multiple days, making it useful if I ever want to start tracking and recording my workouts.
The verdict: Running with Road ID gave me an increased sense of security during my afternoon jog. But would I trust it to be my only form of protection in a particularly sketchy area? Probably not. The whole idea centers around you having your phone at all times, rendering it useless if it is stolen or lost. But for now I’ll continue to use it, if only for me, my friends’—and my mom’s—peace of mind.