Bulloch County schools bus driver Gil Riggs won the Georgia Association of Pupil Transportation State Road-e-o competition held in Warner Robins last week. As a result, Riggs now advances to the International Champion-ship in Baltimore in July, and he also will be recognized at the Annual Transportation Awards Banquet at Callaway Gardens July 23.
One of 59 competitors, Riggs scored 668 out of a possible 750 points. A five-year, veteran driver, he placed second at state in 2009, and he was fourth runner-up in 2010. This will be his second time at the international event that includes drivers from the United States and Canada.
“Gil is part of a long line of successful Bulloch County drivers who have competed well in the state competition,” said Paul Webb, director of transportation for Bulloch schools. “Since 2002, Bulloch County has finished as champion or runner-up five times.”
Jimmy Futch was a two-time champion in 2007 and 2008, and Linda Cartee and Joyce Newton were runner-ups respectively in 2002 and 1989. Riggs is a driver for Team Mattie Lively. He advanced to the state competition after winning first place at the annual, county-level skills challenge. Leon Swinson placed second and Frances Butler placed third behind Riggs at the local event. Butler also competed at this week’s state competition.
“We’re required each year by Bulloch County Schools to test our driving skills on our standard range,” said Riggs. “It keeps our skills sharp and helps us handle real-world, driving situations. The state competition is voluntary, but it is more challenging.”
At the state and international events drivers must also pass a written test and a pre-trip, bus-check similar to what a pilot would perform before flight.
“It’s difficult because you’re neither driving your own bus, nor are you allowed to practice the course before hand,” Riggs said.
At state many of Riggs’ competitors were past, state-champion drivers.
“Jimmy Futch was my trainer when I first started driving. I’m glad to have the opportunity to represent our drivers,” he said.
Riggs’ wife, Kathy, is also a bus driver for the system.