The best schoolbus driver in the state is Fayette County’s own Sherry Harris.
Harris placed first in the Georgia School Bus Safety Competition held June 5-6 at Veterans High School in Kathleen, Ga.
She was the second place winner in the Fayette County School Bus Safety Competition.
Her fellow competitor, Michael Dixon, who placed first in the county competition, rounded out the top 10 best drivers in the state with a tenth-place finish.
The competition features 14 events that include a written exam on the laws, rules and regulations that every school bus driver must know to safely operate a school bus, and a physical and verbal inspection for defects, which drivers are required to perform daily before taking the bus on the road.
Some very challenging events designed to truly test the drivers skills are diminishing clearance, where the contestant drives the bus in a straight line without stopping through a shrinking clearance that starts out as the width of the bus plus 10 inches and gradually decreases to the width of the bus plus two inches; forward serpentine where the driver weaves in and out of cones a distance of the width of the bus plus three feet, and backward serpentine, the same course only backwards.
Both serpentine courses must be completed in a continuous motion without bumping, scraping or knocking over the markers.
Other contest events simulate actual driving conditions encountered daily such as backing up, right turns, straight turns, parallel parking, stop line (stopping behind the line at a stop), curb line (pulling up to a curb), railroad crossing, student loading and offset alley (driving through offset lanes).
Approximately 64 bus drivers competed in the state contest.
As Georgia’s champion, Harris advanced to the International School Bus Safety Competition held in Tulsa, Okla., July 20-21.
Safety competitions have proven to be one of the most effective instructional tools available to improve a person’s driving skills.
The objectives of both the state and international safety competitions are to reinforce learning and implementation of good practices, reward excellence for demonstration of the skills needed for demanding job of the school bus driver, develop public awareness to the skills and responsibilities of being a school bus driver, and encourage drivers to communicate and share their experiences with colleagues.