Between 2600 and 2800 students in the Dodge City Public School system are transported daily. Luckily for them, skilled bus drivers like Eduardo Escobedo are behind the wheel.
This summer, Escobedo took first place in his category at the State School Bus Safety Competition, something that hasn’t happened for a USD 443 driver in more than 25 years. The event was held in Hutchinson on June 19. To qualify, Escobedo won the district competition on April 20, something he’s managed to accomplish every year for the past five years.
“I have been a bus driver since January, 2004, but the first year I competed was 2005,” he said. “I got third place and fifth place at state but I didn’t know the rules that well.”
The win at the state competition qualified him for a shot at the national title in Tulsa, Okla., July 21.
“I did not place but it was fun and a good learning experience,” Escobedo said. “I met drivers from all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico and at the award banquet, I got to sit with drivers from Massachusetts, Maine and Washington.”
The event tests basic knowledge and skills a bus driver uses when operating a school bus. The competition has an obstacle course with 14 different obstacles a driver has to navigate through. The course is time and scored.
“We are very proud that Eduardo got first place in his division,” Diana Loera, transportation supervisor, said. “Eduardo takes competing seriously and he has always given 100 percent.”
Escobedo says he comes from a long line of drivers; his father and two brothers were also drivers. He has one son and two daughters and has been in Dodge City since 2000.
“It’s an honor to have one of our drivers receive first place in their division in this competition,” Loera said. “It is a very competitive competition between drivers and the school district has not had anyone win first place in their division since the 1980s.”