Fall back: be careful driving in the dark

By Melanie Speicheer - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

SIDNEY — It’s time to “fall back” as Ohioans will get an extra hour to sleep this weekend.

“The change of time comes Sunday, Nov, 1, at 2 a.m.,” said Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart during his weekly interview. ‘And with the time change comes some new driving challenges.”

In addition to the time change, days are getting shorter with darkness coming earlier at night.

“Twenty-five percent of accidents happen at night,” said Lenhart. “And 50% of those traffic crashes result in a fatality.”

Lenhart said the older a person gets, the harder it is to drive at night. Depth of perception becomes a concern. And the bright lights from oncoming vehicles van also cause problems.

“There are eyeglasses that can help take the glare off the lights at night,” said Lenhart. ‘I have pair and they do help.”

“Critters” such as deer and even dogs, can cause accidents when they dash into the road.

“In 2019, Shelby County had 302 accidents because of deer,” said Lenhart. “There were three injuries to driers.

‘So far in 2020, we’ve had 167 deer crashes with two injuries,” he said.

The cost to the vehicle owner involved in a critter crash can range can be $2,000 or more.

“We lose four squad cars a year to deer crashes,’ said Lenhart. “We do have a special bar on the front of the vehicles which helps. But we still get vehicles torn up.”

And with fall, said Lenhart, comes falling leaves, which can also create a driving hazard.

“When the leaves a wet, it makes it difficult to stop” said Lenhart. “Your tires might not perform as well on the wet leaves as the dry pavement.”

Water laying on the road after a storm can also cause a driving hazard.

“Sometimes the water will cause an optical illusion,” said Lenhart. “Other times the car could hydroplane if the driver is going too fast.”

The sun, said Lenhart, can also cause a glare as the driver is driving in the direction of the sun.

“We’ve had some serious accidents when the person is driving into the sun’s glare and can’t see what’s happening in front of them. Always keep your front glass clean, have sunglasses available,” said Lenhart. Also use the sun visor to help cut down the sun’s glare.

If it’s foggy, Lenhart recommends using the low light beams instead of high beams, which will make it more difficult to see.

“And remember with the dropping temperatures, the bridges will freeze quicker than the roads which could cause ice on the bridges,” said Lenhart.

Lenhart recommends everyone have a cellphone in their car, first aid kit, flares and jumper cables in case of an emergency.

Lenhart also shares information on how much trash inmates have collected this year on the county’s highways and roads. he said the department has a contract with ODOT for trash pickup.

In 2020, inmates have picked up 427 bags of trash which is 5 tons of trash. In 2019, they picked up 555 bags which was 6 1/2 tons of trash.

“They picked up 200 pieces of tires,” said Lenhart. “They also picked up car parts.”

The sheriff said a couple dozen bottles of unopened alcohol beverages were found. Two dozen sex toys were found along with an inflatable full size doll. Wallets and a CDL/passport were found and some of the owners were located and the items returned to them.

A Sony Playstation 4 was found. After it was dried out, it was returned to its owner.

Other trash found was bottles filled with urine, plastic bags filled with feces and syringes.


By Melanie Speicheer


The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.