San Benito creates obstacles to test abilities

SAN BENITO — The wheels on the bus go round and round … and between the tennis balls hopefully.

San Benito CISD bus drivers put their skills to the test to complete an obstacle course yesterday as part of professional development training.

According to transportation director Erica Flores, 64 certified drivers from the district were evaluated on several factors and were graded on a 100-point scale.

Drivers had to pass the evaluation with a score of 60 or more.

Those who failed were required to complete additional training.

“It’s ensuring that our drivers understand that their job is a high responsibility for them because we transport students and safety is priority for us because we’re responsible for student’s lives,” Flores said.

An obstacle course was created in the parking lot outside of Bobby Morrow Stadium with five different stations that tested drivers in different areas, such as back up parking, parallel parking and railroad crossing.

One station tested drivers on the ability to drive in a straight line.

The obstacle involved an area lined with two rows of five tennis balls placed on two-inch platforms where drivers were required to keep their right tires between the lines without knocking over the tennis balls.

“Bus drivers are supposed to be able to drive a bus in a straight line,” Flores said. “It may sound easy but when you’re actually in the bus and you have a very narrow space to go through, you have to be able to control the bus.”

Flores said some of the courses involved obstacles that drivers rarely encounter, but are required to know how to complete such as backing up into a parking space.

Flores said bus drivers are not encouraged to back into parking spaces, but depending on the situation, it could be warranted.

Drivers were also graded on a surprise document check to ensure they were all carrying the documents necessary to drive a bus, including a valid driver’s license, Region 1 certification and a medical card.

Documents accounted for almost a quarter of the driver’s grades.

The total evaluation and obstacle course had six parts that tested drivers on driving skills, procedures and documentation.

“There is a lot more to it than transporting a vehicle,” Flores said. “Our purpose is to transport students safely so they can get their education.”

Driver Evaluation Score Card

Driver Documents: 22 points

Back-up parking: 6 points

Parallel Parking: 6 points

Straight Lines: 36 points

Loading/Unloading Students: 18 points

Railroad Crossing: 12 points