SIDNEY — Nighttime driving is a time for all drivers to remain cautious and careful when behind the wheel.
“Car accident statistics show that 40 percent of all fatal accidents occur at night,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. “There’s 60 percent less traffic at night.
“Last year there were 974 crashes in Shelby County. Of those, 253 were deer crashes, which is 26 percent of all crashes. A vast majority of those happened at night. Those are the ones that are reported. Some of them are not reported.”
Lenhart offered some tips for driving at night.
• Maintain a longer following distance of the car in front of you.
• Keep your headlights on dim. “Many times a car will come up on your bumper with their bright lights on,” he said. “When you get within 250 feet of the vehicle, put your lights on dim.”
• Don’t tailgate.
• Avoid looking directly into the lights of cars that are approaching you. Bright lights will cause your eyes to dilate and make it harder to see.
• Watch out for deer. If you see one, there’s probably more in the area. “We’ve had four squad cars damaged by deer between November and now,” said Lenhart.
• Avoid multitasking while driving. In other words, don’t talk or text on your cellphone, don’t eat or smoke, brush your hair or do anything that will take your attention off the road.
Lenhart said he found a truck driver course online and it has good safety tips for all drivers.
• Beware of highway hypnosis. Keep fresh air coming into the vehicle to keep you alert. Avoid going into a daze of tiredness when you’re driving.
• Avoid medication or alcohol that will make you sleepy.
• If you’re fatigued, pull over and rest.
• If you work long hours, about halfway home, you might experience a “shut down.” Pull over if necessary to take a break.
“There are more drunk drivers on roads at night than in the daytime,” said Lenhart.
He also said 90 percent of all decisions made while driving at night are based on vision. If the person driving is delivering something, they are watching for the house number of the residence, while also watching for other vehicles.
Other tips offered include:
• Clean your windows once a week.
• Replace any cracked glass in your windows or lights.
• Wearing yellow-colored glasses might enhance vision at night. “Data is showing that it’s not as good as people think it might be.”
• Inspect the lights of the vehicle on a regular basis. Make sure the lights and turning signals are working properly.
• Keep the light on your dashboard low. “Transitioning your eyes between the dashboard and the vehicles’ lights approaching you can cause problems,” he said.
• If you’re tired, pull over and rest. “It’s better to get there a little late,” he said, than not at all.
• Take frequent breaks if you driving over a long period of time.
• Use your visor to cut down on the glare from other vehicles’ lights.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.