ELKVIEW, W.Va. — Bus drivers from around the state gathered at Herbert Hoover High School Wednesday morning to show off their skills behind the wheel in the 47th annual West Virginia Bus Safety Road-e-o.

The Bus Safety Road-e-o invited drivers from every county to come out and work on their skills while also competing for a trophy and the right to compete in the International Road-e-o in Austin, Texas next week.

Despite the nice incentives, Summers County substitute bus driver Thomas Cox said that’s not why he came out to drive.

“There are prizes and awards for everybody, but that’s not what I’m here for,” Cox said Wednesday morning. “Mine is just to fine tune my skills.”

Cox said that the event is a great chance to learn more about his craft, and that’s what every bus driver needs to do to improve.

“The day that you stop learning as a bus driver is the day you need to hang up your keys because you need to be learning every single day that you drive,” Cox said.

Drivers were able to learn and grow with a complex course in the parking lot of Herbert Hoover High School. The course was designed to challenge drivers in day-to-day situations such as student loading, tight left and right turns, as well as back-in parking.

Cabell County bus driver Kevin Irwin says the course is tough, but nothing he hasn’t seen on the job.

“It’s a little bit tight,” Irwin said after examining the course. “Going from one event to another is a little tight, but in the real world, we got cars and vehicles parked within inches of us that sometimes we have to navigate through.”

Supervisor of Safety and Training for Kanawha County Schools Jimmy Lacy says the practice while school is out of session is vital for examining the drivers’ safety habits.

“It’s important because a child’s life is in danger any time that we’re on the road,” Lacy said. “This is one way a driver can show how much they take the safety of the students that they’re transporting on a daily basis, how much that means to them.”

Along with the chance to test the state’s bus drivers, Lacy says the road-e-o is a good opportunity to give back to a group of underappreciated essential workers.

“Bus drivers go unappreciated a lot of times,” Lacy said. “This is just a way that we, as the State Association and Department of Education, can show our appreciation for what they do on a daily basis for keeping our kids safe.”

In addition to the top prizes, drivers and workers were treated to vendors and food trucks on the Herbert Hoover campus in between their time on the course.

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