Vidor bus driver wins first in International School Bus Road-E-O

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Special to The Leader


Vidor Independent School District veteran bus driver Kristy Raley has some pretty amazing bragging rights if she chooses to exercise them.  In July she won first place at the International School Bus Road-E-O, held in Greensboro, North Carolina, with competitors from all over the United States and Canada vying for the trophy.

This is not Raley’s first Road-E-O, so to speak. In her twenty-one years of driving a school bus for Vidor ISD, she has been to the international competition five times, placing eighth and fourth before winning first.  To advance to the international contest, she must not only win a regional competition, but the State one, which she did in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2016.  The top two State winners advance to International.  Raley has won first place every time but 2011, and then she was second, still enabling her to advance.

While her main concern is keeping her students safe and providing a caring atmosphere on her bus, she does enjoy the competitions, where she must pass a written test and perform a series of maneuvers on her bus that many people wouldn’t want to attempt in a car.  The drivers are tested on backup stall, which includes backing into a narrow stall and stopping at a certain point, parallel parking, and driving between cones with tennis balls that create a space of only two total inches leeway.  They also are tested on stopping at a railroad crossing, offset alley, and student pickup, among others.  Judges stand with clipboards, deducting points if something is missed or not performed within the allotted time.  The drivers’ scores, along with the scores from their written tests, are added together to get their grand totals.  This year, Mrs. Raley beat the second place winner by an astonishing twenty-two points.  “Usually the scores are closer than that, so I was really happy,” she said in a recent interview.

Her win will be featured in School Bus Fleet Magazine.  As the first International School Bus Road-E-O winner from Vidor, she stands alone. But she has a collection of trophies to keep her company, along with a whole host of co-workers who think she’s wonderful.   VISD Director of Transportation Jeanne Taylor says, “I am so proud of her, and so are all the other drivers.  Everyone up here (at Transportation) praises her because of her knowledge and how well she explains things. She helps the other drivers, trains new drivers, and has taught bus safety classes to the elementary students.”  Taylor and Raley are working on an exciting new program to help children be safe this year, with Raley leading this in Vidor schools.

Raley urges the public to keep an eye out for children as school starts back.  “That stop sign on the bus?  That’s not just a stop sign; that’s a life.  Children will be hurrying off the buses, so drivers need to slow down, pay attention, and watch out for our precious children.”  Words of wisdom, well-spoken,  from Vidor’s own International School Bus Road-E-O first place winner.