Waynesville - Some people use a nine-iron to make a hole in one. Michael Lovingood of Cherokee County went with the eight-ton backhoe. A steady hand, laser-like focus, and the tremendous safety skills he uses in his job as a bridge maintenance worker for the North Carolina Department of Transportation helped him ace the exercise.
"We encounter situations every day that require us to precisely judge distance, speed, and accuracy," says Lovingood. "We are constantly focused on safely doing our jobs."
He is one of 120 participants in the NCDOT Division 14 Safety Roadeo this week in Waynesville. The event also includes obstacle courses and parallel parking tests for dump truck, lowboy, grader, and single-axel truck drivers, as well as special challenges for crane and tractor operators.
"This is a friendly competition that gives us a chance to promote safety and teamwork, and showcase the skills we use on the job," says Ed Green, Division 14 Engineer. "We face challenging situations and conditions every day. Here in the mountain counties, there's always a new challenge."
One challenge is a pre-trip inspection. Competitors have five minutes to find ten items on a truck that need attention before they turn the key. "It can be anything from a missing dipstick to a loose lug nut to low tire pressure," says Candie Auvil, Division 14 safety engineer. "These are things our drivers are checking every day on the job."
NCDOT employees took part from all of Division 14's districts, which include the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Jackson, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Macon, Transylvania, Polk, and Swain. First place winners are:
Chris Rawlins, Henderson County: tandem axle
Jason Brown, Macon County: tractor/mower
David Trantham, Haywood County: lowboy
Matt Hoyle, Haywood County: crane
Tobie Wyatt, Haywood County: backhoe
Blake Brooks, Clay County: single axle truck
Mike Pack, Henderson County: grader
They will compete with winners from NCDOT's other 13 divisions at the statewide competition July 21 at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. To see more photos of the Division 14 Safety Roadeo, visit the NCDOT Flickr gallery.
(front row, winners l to r:) Chris Rawlins, Jason Brown, David Trantham, Matt Hoyle.(back row:) Division Safety Engineer Candie Auvil, Division Engineer Ed Green, Safety Officer Joel Poston.(front row, winners l to r:) Mike Pack, Blake Brooks.(back row:) Division Safety Engineer Candie Auvil, Division Engineer Ed Green, Safety Officer Joel Poston.