Now here’s something of a slower, but very precise change of pace…
On Saturday, April 10th, 2010, the CENTEX Chapter of the Texas Association for Pupil Transportation put on the Bus ROAD-EO for the School Districts of Regions 13 (the Austin area) & Region 20 (the San Antonio area). This is an annual event. It was put on this year by the NISD (Northside Independent School District), of San Antonio, Texas.
What’s a Bus ROAD-EO? It’s a competition among school district bus drivers to test their ability to properly & accurately navigate a set course of traffic cones, PVC pipe defined areas to park within, following set rules and using their multiple mirrors to the utmost.
I also noted that the entire set of back windows was papered over, further challenging judging distances to the rear. That’s no easy feat with the large rear overhang of a school bus.
Bottom line? It’s a serious test of judgment! This competition showcases the precision & care that good school bus drivers demonstrate. This is all being done while being smooth & not jerky with bus control. They had to back into a narrowly defined area within certain parameters.
They had the stop & verify at certain types of signage, like a railroad sign.
The drivers had to correctly make a 90 degree turn without climbing over cones representing curved curbing.
A tricky maneuver was that of placing the right rear tires between a series of narrow tennis ball “gates, that got even narrower as one progressed slowly forward.
They were a set of PVC-defined “walls”, so to speak, that got narrower as one progressed. This took the clearance width down to 1″ on each side of the bus!
Of course you had your dreaded parallel parking challenge. It was awesome to see when it was done precisely & quickly. Whereas others were awkward & sometimes hit the curb. There was a time limit of 3 minutes – they could pull forward again to retry within that time window. The closer to the curb one parked (within 18″) the fewer demerits were taken away. More than 18″, they lost all points for that sector.
Toward the end there were 2 offset “walled” (with PVC, again) gates. It was easier said than done, check out the slow transition from one to the other…
Not to be left out were the “special needs” buses & their drivers.
They some of the same maneuvers, but they also had to prove they knew the methods to safely load & secure & unload their wheelchair-bound passengers.
I’m sure you’ve figured by now that this was not a speed event. Everything was slow, controlled & deliberate. Although it was not exciting to watch like an autocross or a gymkhana, it did hold a certain fascination to see these bright yellow behemoths gently transported across the pavement. I was given these 2 pins as a memento of the event. I share them with you here below.
Meanwhile, the abundant Texas Bluebonnets looked on…
Racing Ready now holds more respect for the school bus drivers out there.
Keep up the great work, school bus drivers! Even with the lack of respect they’re given on the roadways & by their passengers, our school children… they carry the future of our society!
P.S. – For those interested in the rules & regulations specifics of this event, see
the School Bus Safety ROAD-E-O Regulations. They are quite detailed!