|Cook-Illinois Drivers Lasso Trip to Illinois School Bus Safety Roadeo State Finals|
|Wednesday, 30 June 2010 14:04|
Oak Forest, Ill. -- What do a former auto dealership porter, veteran truck driver and grandpa from Oak Forest have in common? All are champion school bus drivers who lassoed spots in the Illinois School Bus Safety Roadeo championship in Sandwich, IL last Friday, June 25. David Jensen, 26, of Cicero, who drives for Grand Prairie Transit in the Hinsdale area, placed first in this week’s semi-finals. Archie Banks, 48, of Hillside who drives special needs children for Westway in Glen Ellyn, placed second. Jerry Heim, 63, of Oak Forest who drives for Illinois School Bus in Tinley Park, placed third.
Jensen, Banks and Heim competed in two earlier rounds and, as the top three finalists, received cash prizes from parent school bus company Cook-Illinois Corporation of $1500, $1200 and $1000, respectively. They were also selected to advance to the more challenging state-wide competition in Sandwich last Friday. The state winner was three-time champion Debra L’Abbe of First Student, Prairie View who will advance to nationals.
The Illinois School Bus Safety Roadeo required the contestants to compete in three different categories. The first is an evaluation of the driver’s efficiency in administering a pre-trip vehicle inspection of the bus. The daily inspection consists of assessing any possible defects in first aid kits, lights, and tires. Competitors also participated in ten different driving skills challenges, including reversing, student loading, railroad crossing stops, parking alongside curbs, offset alley maneuvering and a measured right hand turn. They also are required to take a written driving test.
“In the semi-finals, I concentrated and just focused on doing my very best,” explained Jensen, a former porter for a Chicago area auto dealer. “In the state competition, I am going to try even harder to avoid those tennis balls that are placed just 36 inches apart!”
All three contestants agree that the job of a school bus driver is not to be taken lightly. “Nationally, 8000 kids are injured in bus accidents each year. “I drove a U.S. Postal Service truck for 30 years and have more experience driving than most,” Banks explained. “However, transporting school children is so much more important than transporting mail. Drivers tend to use more skill and concentration when lives are on the line.”
Jensen, Banks and Heim will were sponsored by Cook-Illinois Corporation, the largest family owned and operated school bus company in the nation, which operates Grand Prairie, Westway, Illinois School Bus and 14 other school bus companies. “We take safety very seriously,” explained Tom O’Sullivan, Cook-Illinois vice president. “Hosting the Roadeo was another way to demonstrate that commitment, show off our drivers’ skills and have some fun with a little friendly competition.”
“I just really enjoyed myself,” explained Jerry Heim, a grandfather of two. “With the prize money, I plan on getting the brakes fixed on my truck and taking my family out for a good dinner!”
About Cook-Illinois Corporation
In addition to its focus on safety, Cook-Illinois is one of the greenest school bus companies in the country. It was one of the first in the country to switch its entire fleet of nearly 2,000 buses to biodiesel fuel and created the Clean Air Club bus, a mobile museum to teach students about renewable fuels and the importance of clean air. And, in 2009, it purchased the first hybrid school bus in Illinois. Serving more than 200 school districts throughout Illinois and Indiana, the company provides both student and charter transportation using computerized mapping and routing technology for maximum efficiency and safety in managing its bus fleet. For more information, contact Helga at 708.560.9840.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 14:11|