SIDNEY — Take your time.
That’s the advice Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is sharing when it comes time to drive on snow and ice-covered roads.
“Seventeen percent of all accidents happen on ice and snow days,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart shared some safe driving tips for the upcoming snowy season.
• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. This will help you keep traction on the road, he said.
• Take your time. “It’s going to take longer to drive on icy and snowy roads,” said Lenhart. “Everything takes longer on the ice and snow, so leave home earlier than you usually do.”
• Leave room to maneuver your vehicle around other vehicles on the road.
• Leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. “When the pavement is dry, you should have 3 to 4 seconds of drive time between your vehicle and the one in front of you,” said Lenhart. “You should increase that to 8 to 10 seconds when the roads are snow-covered.”
• Know how your brakes work on snowy roads. Most vehicles, he said, have anti-lock brakes.
• Stopping your vehicle on a snow-covered road. “Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply steady pressure to the brake,” said Lenhart. “Do no slam on the brakes.”
“We have a lot of hills in Shelby County,” he said. “Don;t stop on a hill while you’re going up it. In the winter, I avoid those roads that have hills.”
Lenhart said he also stays off the interstate during bad weather.
“There’s lots and lots of cars on the interstate,” he said. “You’re going to get in trouble quicker there than you will on county roads.”
He also encourages drivers to have a buffer zone on each side of their vehicle when they are diving.
“Stay away from the pack of cars all driving together,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart also recommends that drivers don’t follow the taillights in front of them when visibility is low.
“If you need to stop, don’t do it on the side of the road,” said Lenhart. “Get off at an intersection and don’t stop on the shoulder of the road. If there’s lots of snow, you won’t be able to get off the road very far and then there’s a danger of someone hitting you from behind.”
Lenhart also encourages all drivers to have the vehicle’s lights on whenever they are driving.
“This gives the driver more visibility,” said Lenhart.
Lenhart said the county doesn’t use snow levels during the winter season.
“We’ve never used the 1, 2 and 3 snow levels,” said Lenhart. “You’ll find different weather on one side of the county from the other. The east and west weather will be different. The weather is very flexible in the county.
“I believe Shelby County residents are smart enough to have the the good judgment on whether they should go to the store or work,” said Lenhart.
On a different note, Lenhart said the federal government shutdown is effecting his office.
“I received a call from the U.S. Marshals who said the federal movement can’t pay us for the federal prisoners we house in our jail,” said Lenhart. “They asked us to continue to hold their 40 or so inmates and I assured him that I would and they should call when they can pay us.”
Lenhart said he also learned that the marshals have to continue working through the shut-down and are not being paid.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.