Student reports on roadway safety

A Wapakoneta High School student’s project on roadway safety for tractor and farming equipment has caught the attention of Wapakoneta Police Chief Russel Hunlock, who said he wants the public to be aware of this issue. 

WHS senior, Michael Spees, chose to do his 12th grade English project on this topic because he said that most people aren’t being careful enough when they encounter tractors and other farming equipment on the road. 

Along with being a high school student, Spees is also a farmer, and knows first hand what it’s like to drive a tractor along roadways.

“I’ve had people come flying past me and have been a foot or two away from hitting me,” he said. “Other times, drivers will try to get me to pull over into a ditch that I can’t possibly get around.”

According to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, there have been 31 roadway accidents involving tractors in Ohio since 2010.

According to Spees, most of these accidents occur on busy roads and state routes and are usually caused when drivers try to pass a tractor that is unable to stop or pull over. 

Hunlock said that this issue is all about public safety and public awareness.

“I think that we need to heighten the awareness of the motoring public during the spring and in the fall when farmers are most likely to be out there on the roadways,” he said.

Hunlock estimated that starting in April, tractors and other farming equipment  will be on the roads almost everyday so drivers need to be aware of this.

“My advice to people is to give yourself some extra time to get where you’re going, don’t be in such a rush, follow the speed limits and take extra precautions,” he said.  

Spees and Hunlock agreed that the main reason these accidents occur is people are in a hurry, and they are willing to risk their safety and the safety of farmers in order to get to their destination quicker. 

Spees said he hopes his project will educate people about tractor safety on the roadways so they will be more cautious when they approach one of these vehicles.

“I hope that my project will let people know that they need to keep an eye out for tractors when they are driving in the country because you never know when you’ll come across one,” he said.