School Bus Roadeo
KCSOS team wins local School Bus Roadeo driving competition, heading for Southern California competition
We’ve all imagined the harried school bus drivers from our youth just waiting to cut loose. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to burn donuts in empty parking lots like Otto from “The Simpsons,” or take a 10-ton bus over a jump, “Dukes of Hazzard” style?
So when we heard that there was an annual school bus driving competition called The Roadeo, and that three drivers from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office took first place in the regional competition, we could hardly contain our excitement.
Could we have some daredevil drivers behind school buses here in Kern who let loose during weekend competitions?
Ray Paloma, Dawn Robles and Damon Anglin took first place April 9 in the team competition at the annual CASTO Chapter 12 School Bus Roadeo.
It turns out the event isn’t nearly as enthralling as petrol heads might dream it to be. There are no doughnuts burned, no high air jumps, and drag racing isn’t a part of the competition. There’s not even any speeding.
“No. 1 is safety,” Anglin said. “This is pretty much for the kids.”
Videos of past competitions are hard to watch for those expecting a high-energy contest. Drivers saddle up in big yellow buses moving at glacial speeds while performing obstacle course maneuvers that seem routine.
Parallel parking, weaving between cones and loading and unloading passengers are among the skills tested. There’s even a written test portion. In one event, parking skills are tested.
Those skills might seem mundane, but they helped Anglin avoid a head-on-collision a few years ago, he said. He was driving down a two-lane road in his bus with a tractor coming toward him. A Honda coupe swerved out from behind to pass the tractor and came into Anglin’s lane.
“I was close enough to see the driver’s face, and his passenger, too” Anglin said. “If I would’ve hit them, I would have killed both of them.”
Instead, he recalled his training in the Roadeo’s obstacle course and weaved right, then left as the Honda barely scraped through.
With a name like Roadeo we half expected the drivers to at least hop out of their buses and wrangle some unruly kids, but there’s none of that, either.
The contest is, for all intents and purposes, one that judges the skills bus drivers employ each and every day. Kern County might not have daredevil stuntmen for drivers, but at least parents know that their kids are being driven around by a few of the safest, most precise bus drivers around.
— BY HAROLD PIERCE / The Bakersfield Californian
Published with permission from The Bakersfield Californian