Three Fulton County school bus drivers will be heading to Columbus May 6 for the state Road-E-O event. The three are part of a contingent of bus drivers representing northwest Ohio, one of eight regions. The team will be competing for individual and group awards and a chance to go the international event.
Two of the drivers are from Archbold and another from Delta. The Archbold drivers are Linda Schmidt, transportation director for Archbold Schools and JoAnn Cousino, who works in the kitchen as well as drives. Representing Delta is Audra Tollson.
The purpose of the Road-E-O is promoting bus safety and safer drivers. The standards are strict and a careless or lazy driver can lose points quickly. The event features a 50- or 100-question written test that forces drivers to read carefully before answering, Schmidt said. The questions involve general knowledge and the Pre-service Manual, CDL Manual, the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Motor Vehicle Digest, Cousino said.
“The written test is not straight up questions,” Schmidt said. “It requires critical reading skills.”
The driving test throws situations drivers may come in contact with on the road, Cousino said. The written test can range from 30-60 minutes, she said.
The Road-E-O is annual event and Schmidt and Cousino attend every year. They like the competition and the friends they make. With recertification required every six years, the competition keeps them sharp and dispels any bad habits they may have acquired.
“The Road-E-O is seen as the same level as the recertification,” Schmidt said.
With the road tests, drivers are tested on right turns, railroad crossings, student pick-ups and drop-offs, Offset Street, curb line parking, forward stop line, reverse serpentine, depth perception measurement and field judge. The tests are strict with even minor errors resulting in lost points. The various tests leave little room for error as drivers must also turn signals on and off at the correct time and maintain a calm demeanor.
While the drivers strive for a perfect score, this year Schmidt got a 681, good enough for first place out of 41 drivers. Schmidt has scored a 701 before, she said. “I felt pretty good,” Schmidt said. Cousino came in second with a personal best of 678.
The top six drivers moved on to the state level, May 6 in Columbus. Drivers 7-9 are alternates.
The drivers are excited to go to Columbus as a team, but could also make the International event as an individual. Schmidt made it to the international Road-E-O in 2013 and finished 13th out of 39.