Each year, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) hosts the School Bus Driver International Safety Competition. The School Bus Driver International Safety Competition began in 1971 as the National School Bus Safety Road-e-o and was created to improve driving skills; develop a more thorough understanding of the school bus driving profession; and to further highway safety programs.
This competition has evolved into one of the most important events in the school transportation industry, with the best school bus drivers from the U.S. and Canada competing for top honors and recognition.
The event begins with a written test then contestants get behind the wheel of a bus to show their driving skills by competing in one of three categories – conventional, transit, or small bus. Through this competition drivers have the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism, skill, and dedication to pupil transportation. The event culminates with an awards ceremony, where the winners of the competition are announced.
We within the industry know that school buses are the safest form of transportation available. We also know that the safety record of the yellow school bus exists in large part because of the industry’s top priority – training. Showcasing their skills and expertise each year, these top competitors are given a chance to demonstrate everything they have learned throughout their professional career and NSTA is honored to sponsor this competition.
The event is held each year in conjunction with NSTA’s Annual Meeting and Convention and therefore moves each year. Given that NSTA relies on volunteers from across the United States and Canada each year to ensure the success of this event, we are incredibly grateful to the dedicated team of people who year after year work tirelessly and sometimes in extreme weather conditions to ensure uniform conditions for all competitors and a great event each year. We are also very appreciative of the judges who devote their time and expertise to ensure the event’s success. Many of our judges return from year to year as they, too, look forward to each competition.
One of the best parts of the competition is seeing the pride the drivers have in their accomplishments. Whether a first-time competitor or a seasoned veteran, each driver genuinely seems to be pleased and proud to attend – many bring their families and several even attend at their own personal expense.
NSTA believes the recognition of the best-of-the-best school bus drivers is critical to the continued success of our industry. Ensuring that the nation’s school bus drivers are recognized for their work transporting the nation’s children in the safest manner possible each day is simply the least we can do and we hope you will join us in thanking this year’s competitors, as well as all school bus drivers, for everything they do each and every day.
Ronna Weber is the executive director of NSTA.