SIDNEY — The first snow of the season has reminded Ohio drivers that they’ve forgotten how to drive in the snow and ice.
“From yesterday (Monday) when the snow started through 9 a.m. this morning (Tuesday), the sheriff’s office responded to 23 crashes/slide-offs,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. “I don’t know if that’s a record, but it was a lot.”
Ironically, said Lenhart, he intended to talk about winter driving tips in his weekly column before the snow hit Monday.
“It’s a phenomenon we go through each year,” said Lenhart. “We have our first snow. We have our first ice storm.”
Defensive driving, he said, is a must for all drivers on the road.
“Other people aren’t going to drive like you or I do,” said Lenhart. “With the newer cars, you have rear cameras, collision warning alarms but accidents still go up slightly each year. With all the devices, bigger cars and four-wheel drive, people think they drive like they’re on normal roads even if there’s snow on them.”
Lenhart said drivers should leave home earlier so they get to work or a doctor’s appointment on time.
“Stay calm while you’re driving,” he said. “Slow down. Give yourself 10 to 15 minutes extra time if you’re going to work to to see a doctor.
“Also listen to the radio or watch TV before leaving home to see what the road conditions are,” he said. “If you’re driving on the interstate, you’re going to be seeing accidents on days like today.”
And, he said, if you don’t have to be somewhere, stay home.
“Of if you do have to go out, wait until later in the day to go out,” he said.
Everyone in the vehicle, he said, should be wearing their seat belts. If you know the weather is going to be bad the next day, make sure to get plenty of rest so you’re prepared to deal with the road conditions.
“Always have hand-free devices for your phone or radio so you’re not distracted by them,” said Lenhart. “Don’t drink and drive or do drugs. Avoid other distractions such as eating or drinking, follow the speed limits and when the road conditions are bad, slow down.”
He asks all drivers be courteous to others on the road.
“Don’t be driving in and out of the lanes because you’re in a hurry,” said Lenhart. “Also don’t travel in packs. Someones it will look like the Daytona 500 with cars all grouped together on the interstate.”
As he discussed in a previous column, Lenhart recommends there be warm clothes, blankets, flashlight and food in case you get stranded.
“You should keep the fuel in your vehicle topped off,” he said. “And we know that Ohio is known for whiteout blizzards, so you should always be careful and look both ways when approaching an intersection.”
Lenhart said drivers should also pay attention to snowplows and salt trucks.
“Stay behind them,” said Lenhart. “Work with them so they can clear the roads..”
In 2018, said Lenhart, there were 79 crashes in Ohio involving snowplows.
“Drive defensively, wear your seat belt and take your time,” said Lenhart of driving on snowy roads.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.