Veteran drivers win school bus titles
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 10, 2013 1:46 PM
Three veteran school bus drivers and previous winners again took the top three awards in the annual "Bus ROAD-e-o" competition, which showcases driving and safety skills.
Wayne County Public Schools hosts the yearly event, setting up a challenging course in the parking lot of the district's administrative offices. Bus drivers are to maneuver through the course and demonstrate driving skills.
Twenty bus drivers participated in this year's contest, with the top three now eligible to go on to compete at the regional event, held next month.
Sponsored by the Wayne County Board of Education and judged by representatives from the Department of Motor Vehicles' School Bus and Traffic Safety section, regional winners are eligible to compete at the state finals in Raleigh in May. There is also a national championship held later in the year.
This year's local three finalists are all repeat winners, said Raymond Smith, director of transportation for the district.
James Shepard, a bus driver for Tommy's Road Elementary School, earned first place. A driver for 13 years, his previous credits include being in second place in the 2012 local event. In 2008, he placed 11th in the state contest after being in the top 10 at the regional event.
Gabrielle Blount, a driver in the city schools, received second place. Smith said she has been a driver for 29 years, beginning as a high school student, before the district discontinued the policy of allowing students to serve as bus drivers.
Third place went to James Crawford, also a city schools driver, a 25-year veteran with the school system.
Crawford had won last year's local event and in 2005 had been named driver of the year and was among drivers recognized for years of service without an accident.