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Bus Drivers Demonstrate Skills In ‘Road-eo’

It’s hard to picture rodeos without cowboys, bull riding and calf roping but Saturday, bus drivers were the ones competing, and instead of horses and bulls, they drove school buses.

Dozens of school bus drivers across eastern Idaho participated in the annual “School Bus Road-eo” in Rexburg Saturday morning.

“It builds self-confidence in the drivers with their buses,” said Mary Ann Nielsen, transportation director for the Madison School District. “Sometimes their buses are over 40 feet long.”

Having a skilled bus driver to get students to and from school is something many take for granted. It’s for the sake of safety and security that the School Bus Driver Road-eo was created decades ago.

“A lot of buses throughout southeast Idaho have everybody from a preschooler to a senior, so you have a huge spread of ages to deal with also,” said Jeff Luthy, Sugar-Salem Bus Supervisor.

At the Road-eo, drivers compete against each other using their skills in precision driving and knowledge of laws. Drivers go through an obstacle course where their skills in backing, parallel parking, turning and student loading and unloading are timed and measured.

For bus driver, David Brown, Saturday wasn’t his first time in the saddle. Even as a returning competitor, he finds the course difficult to execute.

“The one I hear everybody always complain about is the right hand turn,” said Brown. “That’s a tough one and depending on the bus you’re in, not all buses are created equally. So, you have to have some skill to make that corner.”

While drivers face many distractions in their day-to-day routes, bus drivers arguably face even more. Road-eo organizers said having to control such a big vehicle full of children and teens is no easy task.

“Say you’ve got 40 to 50 students on a bus and you’re managing them in a nine by 22-inch mirror. Try to conduct a class in that atmosphere and see how well you do,” said Luthy. “There’s a lot going on because you’re watching the road, you’re watching your students and you’re trying to follow procedure.”

To learn more about the School Bus Driver Road-eo, visit

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