For the students coming and going to Kellam High and Creeds Elementary every day, Tom Pittman has always been a stellar bus driver.
Now, he has the hardware to prove it.
Pittman won the 2012 Virginia Association for Pupil Transportation (VAPT) Bus Roadeo competition held over the summer at Northside Middle School in Roanoke, Va.
“It was an experience,” Pittman said. “It was cool.”
Each year, the VAPT hosts this statewide competition for school bus drivers as a way to test driver skills and promote bus safety. The first part of the competition is a written exam, which all contestants must take in the morning of the competition. The second part is an obstacle course where drivers are tested on individual trials such as driving through a diminishing clearance, making a right turn and hitting a target on the ground at specified points and backing in between two rows of cones and stopping in certain places on the course.
To qualify for the event, drivers must first compete in similar city-wide and regional roadeos to make it to the state competition. Pittman placed second in the city, and won the regional competition, and his combined score from both competitions made him VBCPS’s representative in the state roadeo.“I didn’t expect to win the regional,” said Pittman, who had only competed in the roadeo once before. “I didn’t expect to win the state. I didn’t think I would place at the city. I was very surprised every time – thankful, but surprised.”
For winning the state roadeo, Pittman qualified to compete in the national competition, which was held in Milwaukee, but he declined. He does, however, encourage bus drivers to come out and take part in the competition with him next year.
“The main reason (for the roadeo) is to help the drivers be better drivers,” Pittman said. “Anything we can help do to make drivers better drivers is a good thing. You really become more familiar with what you’re doing…and a little competition never hurt anything.”
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