The 44th Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition was held over the weekend in Charleston, S.C., and Russel Altizer of Montgomery County (Va.) Public Schools recorded the top score in Small Bus division for his third title in the last four years.
The event was held in conjunction with the National School Transportation Association's Annual Meeting & Convention.
Altizer tallied 465 points. Lisa Loring of Mid Columbia Bus in Oregon came in second with 441 points, with Chris Helmer of nearby Portland (Wash.) Public Schools finishing third with 415 points and Jeffrey Long of Newport News (Va.) Public Schools finishing fourth with 411 points.
Meanwhile, Ed Rollins of Harrison County (W.V.) won the Conventional Bus division with 623 points after finishing in sixth place last year. He outdistanced second-place finish Gene Thrasher of Bend-Lopine School District in Oregon, who had 578 points. Billy Wiseman and Brian Newhouse of Kanawha County Schools in West Virginia finished third and fourth respectively. Larry Hannon, the eight-time Conventional Bus champion from Centennial School District in Pennsylvania, finished in sixth place, one point behind Michael Graham of Cobb County (Ga.) School District.
Mark Miller of Bellingham (Wash.) Public Schools won the Transit Bus division with 581 points. Miller also won the Transit competition in 2010 and 2011. He was followed by John Welsh of Lower Merion (Pa.) School District with 542 points and Angelica Ortiz of Allen ISD in Texas with 528 points.
In all, 100 bus drivers from the U.S. and Canada participated in this year's event, which consisted of a driver's test on Saturday and bus "roadeo" course on Sunday with 10 events: Offset Alley; Railroad Grade Crossing - Right Turn; Straight Line; Diminishing Clearance; Back-Up Stall; Left Turn; Parallel Parking; Elementary Student Loading; Curb Line Parking; and Stop Line. Each contestant did not have had a preventable school bus accident, as defined by the National Safety Council Safe Driver Award Program (page two), since Sept. 1 of last year.
The School Bus Driver International Safety Competition began in 1971 as the National School Bus Safety Road-e-o and continues to take place on an annual basis. The competition provides positive media coverage for the safety and security of the school bus industry.
Image courtesy NSTA.