It's one of the most high-pressure jobs in education - school bus driver. Imagine the responsibility of ensuring the safety of a bus full of students, not only watching your own driving, but also monitoring what other drivers are doing. Thus safety is an ongoing focus, leading to an international safety competition hosted by the National School Transportation Association.
The School Bus Driver International Safety Competition invites drivers from the United States and Canada to compete for top honors and recognition within their industry. The event begins with a written test, then contestants get behind the wheel of a bus to put their driving skills to the test in one of three categories—conventional, transit or small bus.
More than 65 drivers were invited to put their skills to the test this summer in the 46th annual competition. Lori Robertson, who works for Petermann Bus driving for Lakota Local Schools, placed 5th in the transit category. In the national competition Lori had to drive an 84 passenger bus in which she could not prepare for; all of our buses are 72 passenger units which she has only driven in competitions - usually, she's behind the wheel of special needs bus #92 and also serves as a trainer for Petermann at Lakota.
"We're very proud of Lori, not only in how she finished in this international competition, but also in how she serves as a role model for other drivers with her focus on the safety of our students," states Sue Prewitt, manager of Lakota's Transportation department. This was Robertson's fourth national competition - and getting to that level of competition is no easy feat as there are several steps involved.
"In addition to the national contest, there is a Regional Road E O competition where all the south west Ohio region can compete," explains Prewitt. "This year Lakota hosted and it was held at Plains Junior in April. From here, the top five winners proceed to the state level and compete against drivers throughout the State of Ohio. Next, the top conventional driver and the top transit driver move on to the National Safety competition. It is actually two competitions one needs to win to even get to go to Nationals."