Two Stevensville High School students each recently received a new set of tires when their essays on safe winter driving won top honors in a competition meant to honor the memory of 19-year-old Wyatt Hudson, who died in an automobile accident last winter.
Wyatt, the son of Tony and Anna Hudson of Stevensville, was driving on December 27, 2018 when a rainy road turned to ice. His car went out of control and slipped off the road and crashed through a fence, killing the young man.
According to Brad Taber, owner of Tire Rama in Stevensville, Tony, a longtime customer, came into the shop one day and was talking about his son’s death. He said Tony talked about the need to do something to help educate other students and parents about the need to drive safely and with care.
“He is a grieving parent on a mission to try and make a difference so something like this doesn’t happen to another young member of our community,” said Taber. His mission is to spread the word about safe driving habits and the need for having good tires on their vehicles.
“We take these young inexperienced drivers and put them out on the road, and we hope for the best,” said Taber. “Tony is trying to get people to take the extra step in ensuring their kids’ safety and it moved me to want to help,” he said.
Taber offered to donate a set of tires to some Stevensville student in honor of Wyatt’s memory. Tony said if Taber was going to do that, then he would donate a set of tires as well. They approached the school and it was decided to sponsor an essay contest and the two best one-page essays on safe winter driving would win a set of tires.
The two top essays selected were “Safe Driving” by Jacob Woods, a senior, and “Safe Winter Driving” by Beau Hemry, a junior.
Hemry noted in his essay that every year numerous vehicles slide off the road due to icy, slick roads and hazardous winter conditions.
“Driving too fast, over confidence, braking too quickly, and incorrect tires for the season all are factors in losing control of a vehicle on icy roads,” wrote Hemry.
“Many accidents happen when people are driving too fast because they are late to school or work. These people do not leave themselves enough time to accommodate for the bad weather. To prevent accidents from driving too fast, people should leave earlier and drive slower on the roads. Driving too fast on bad roads is simply not worth the risk of possibly taking someone else’s life or your own to avoid being late. The same goes for over-confident drivers. Often, they do not learn their mistake until it is too late and they have lost control of the vehicle,” wrote Hemry.
He also cautions drivers to keep a safe distance from the vehicle they are following. Having good tires is very important. They can help a lot but, “they are not a guarantee of traction on bad icy roads.”
In his essay, Jacob Woods noted that “being a safe driver isn’t what most people project it to be.”
“To be a safe driver, you have to do more than follow the rules of the road that you learn in Drivers Ed,” he wrote, “or even by just going down to your local DMV to take a test from the book. To be a safe driver, you have to go above and beyond what you were taught in a class or what you read in a book or online.” A safe driver, writes Woods, needs to be alert to the conditions of the road, the weather, and the movements of other vehicles, especially in congested areas. To be safe, you must drive defensively and be able to respond correctly in a split second.
Taber said he was quite impressed with the high quality of all the essays that were submitted.