Asheville - Sunglasses were stowed on the second day of the annual Division 13 Safety Roadeo competition on Thursday.
Skies darkened a bit from Wednesday, yet spirits and safety awareness remained high between the remaining competitors on the final day of competition at the Buncombe Maintenance yard.
More than 100 North Carolina Department of Transportation employees from Buncombe, Burke, Madison McDowell, Mitchell Rutherford and Yancey counties tested their skills, boosted camaraderie and picked up safety tips while competing in one of six events.
"It boils down to exemplifying safe operation of equipment by our employees when they are out in the field and in tight quarters," Division 13 Engineer Jay Swain said. "The things they're doing at the Roadeo are examples of safely performing maneuvers they have to do when working alongside the travelling public or other personnel.
Equipment operators displayed their expert skills in events using motor graders, backhoes, single- and double-axle trucks, tractor mowers, as well as 60-foot long lowboy tractor-trailers. Each exercise resembles real-life scenarios that operators face when working outside a sterile environment.
Motor grader drivers knocked tennis balls off perches of various heights. Backhoe operators picked golf balls up out of the sand and deposited them in tins. Truck drivers maneuvered cones and obstacles and displayed parking skills. Tractor mower drivers weaved one way through cones, then did it again in reverse. Points were deducted for mounting or dismounting improperly, hitting cones or missing targets.
"All of the contestants are not only safe operators, but skilled operators who perform a lot of important work for our citizens," Division 13 safety engineer Walt Russell said. "They got to showcase the skills they use on the jobsite and those skills help make sure everybody is safe and goes home at the end of the day."
The Roadeo is an annual event held in each of the NCDOT's 14 divisions across the state. Winners from each competition in each Division, advance to the statewide Roadeo on July 12 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.
First-place winners from Division 13 were:
Joshua Alexander, Rutherford Maintenance - tandem axle dump truck
Chris Painter, McDowell Maintenance - lowboy tractor-trailer
Chad Wilson, Rutherford Maintenance - motor grader
Tim Conley, Roadside Environmental - tractor mower
Jeff Buchanan, Burke County Maintenance- backhoe
Kim Sumlin, McDowell Maintenance - single axle dump truck