ECHS hosts county bus rodeo

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A bus driver goes through one of the courses Monday morning. |                            Walt Butler/Atmore Advance

A bus driver goes through one of the courses Monday morning. | Walt Butler/Atmore Advance

Drivers got the chance to refine and hone their abilities Monday in the Escambia County school bus rodeo at ECHS.

Billy Mills, shop foreman at the Atmore Bus Shop, said the rodeo allows the drivers to see where they are in their abilities as drivers.

“It’s a good thing,” Mills said. “They don’t get anything for winning, but they get to be on the top six. It kind of gets the others to come.”

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Three drivers from each end of the county were picked as the top six of the rodeo.

Paula Bell of Flomaton finished in first place; Linda Gibson and Quincy Nearer, both of East Brewton, finished in second and third place, respectively; Paul Pearson of Atmore finished fourth; Betty Warren of Atmore finished fifth; and Melvin Byrd of Atmore finished sixth.

Mills said the drivers went through several obstacles and had to use their safety equipment as well.

Mills said the rodeo starts off with a left turn, then drivers had to drive as straight as they could in a 10-foot wide area, called the diminishing clearance. Once the driver reaches the end of the clearance, the bus’s bumper had to be stopped close to the line without going above it.

“That’s the key for the drivers to watch for kids,” he said.

Then drivers tested their turning skills through a weaving course, and had to turn the bus within a certain space while not touching the sides.

“That is really hard because again, that’s only 10-foot wide,” Mills said. “The tires are 8-foot wide at ground level.”

Once the turning portion of the course was complete, drivers had to go through the railroad crossing and student-pick up parts.