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Jimmy Futch to compete in ROAD-E-O competition

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    Jimmy Futch can weave a school bus big enough to hold 60 children through cones about 20 feet apart. He parallel parks perfectly and measures distances to the inch using only his eyes.
    A driver for Bulloch County schools, Futch’s bus driving skills will be put to the test in June during the annual State of Georgia ROAD-E-O in Atlanta. The competition attracts drivers from school districts throughout the state. They are graded on their accuracy in completing bus-driving skills including parking, navigating cones and making railroad stops.
    Although every bus driver in the state must take the ROAD-E-O test annually, only those who score highest are entered into the competition. Futch’s attention to detail has helped his success in the competitions.
    “He’s a perfectionist,” said Paul Webb, Bulloch County director of Transportation, “and I think that’s why he does so well.”
    Futch, a Bulloch County School System bus driver for 14 years, has repeatedly won local and regional bus driving competitions. He has competed at the state ROAD-E-O level five times, and he won third place at state two years ago. But as a devoted driver and trainer, Futch is more concerned about the application of good driving to his everyday job than his performance in the competition.
    “Competition is the fun side of driving,” said Futch, “But the point is safety.”
    Futch still considers children to be his top priority.
    “I try to be a role model, and I try to make a difference in their lives,” said Futch, “Aside from parents, the first adult that a child sees in the morning is the bus driver, and that’s the last adult he sees before going home.”
    Futch also teaches bus driving, and was instrumental in the construction of a driving range that prepares drivers for real-life situations.
    “Better trained means better prepared, and for Bulloch County drivers, being just good enough isn’t good enough,” said Futch.
    Futch expects this year’s competition to be “stiff,” but remains optimistic. Win or lose, he promises to drive to the best of his ability.
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