The State Truck Roadeo returned in 2022. (L-R) are Texas Transportation Commissioner Alvin New, Roadeo Champion Milton Kelley, Runner-up Matt Woolsey and TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams.
(Photo courtesy of TxDOT.)
Focused and determined to win, 52 of TxDOT's best drivers gathered at the North Travis County Area Office in North Austin to decide the title of 2022 State Truck Roadeo Champion.
The goal of the Occupational Safety Division's State Truck Roadeo program is to establish safe vehicle operation and effective pre-trip inspections to reduce vehicle incidents. All full-time TxDOT employees with a valid A or B Commercial Driver's License are eligible to compete in the Roadeo — potentially thousands of operators.
Milton Kelley of Angelina County Maintenance in the Lufkin District won the title of 2022 State Truck Roadeo Champion. Kelley previously competed at the State Truck Roadeo in 2018.
"I approached that course just like I am approaching a job site," said Kelley, who has worked for TxDOT for 12 years.
His advice for success on the course? "I would say stay calm and try not to let the anxiety get to you," he said.
Runner-up went to first-time State Truck Roadeo competitor Matt Woolsey of the Motley County Maintenance section in the Childress District.
Scott Black of the Dallas District, who placed third overall, was named the State Truck Roadeo Excellence Award winner for being "the driver who best exemplifies the inspiration and the spirit of the TxDOT Truck Roadeo."
Drivers competed in five exercises:
- The vehicle inspection/load and tie-down: Drivers find 10 planted defects on the trailer, the loaded equipment and the connection to the tow vehicle.
- 360-Degree Walkaround: Drivers complete a 360-degree walkaround of a dump truck and find a planted potential dropped object within three minutes. The objective is to improve driver awareness around the vehicle before moving the vehicle, preventing dropped object incidents or striking fixed objects or pedestrians;
- Right-hand turn: Drivers attempt a right turn in a predetermined course without stopping or striking a traffic cone. It simulates tight traffic conditions or having to get around a disabled vehicle or equipment within the work zone;
- Left-hand turn: Drivers must navigate a left-hand turn without hitting a cone or stopping the truck. The objective is to not encroach into the oncoming lane on the left side of the vehicle without overly encroaching onto the shoulder or lane to the right side of the vehicle. This exercise also includes a spotter exercise where a driver and a spotter must back the dump truck through a course. Using hand signals, the spotter must guide the driver so he or she does not hit a barricade but gets within 6 in. of it; and
- Diminishing clearance: The driver is required to make a continuous forward movement approaching a funnel shaped, off-center path made by markers. The objective is to determine the driver's ability to steer a vehicle on a lane, which progressively narrows and moves off center similar to shifting lanes in a work zone. The event marked the return of the State Truck Roadeo, which had not happened since 2019.
In addition to the competition, the evented featured a PPE Showcase and a display from the Fleet Operations Division called the FOD Stockshow. The PPE Showcase had new and pilot PPE on display.
The FOD Stockshow displayed the latest equipment enhancements to the fleet, which included new snowplow blades. Participants and attendees could provide feedback on all of these items and collaborate for improvement.
Beaumont District Engineer Martin Gonzalez and Beaumont Deputy District Engineer Ana Mijares were on hand to root for their district's two drivers, Transportation Maintenance Crew Chief Dustin Streed and General Transportation Technician Tony Todd.
"I think it's good for our maintenance employees to shine out here and show what they've got," Mijares said. "Many of the attendees enjoy the chance to meet up with other districts that they don't usually interact with."
"Some people you meet, like when we have a deployment for a hurricane, then you don't ever see them again," said Terry McCoy of the Fleet Operations Division. "But then you come here, and you run into people. It's nice to see everybody again."
The winners were announced at an awards breakfast.
Kelley said he was excited to learn he had won and felt pretty good about his performance on the course.
"It was an honor to win at the state level," Kelley said. "I'm glad that the department puts so much emphasis on safety and has events like this."
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