YAKIMA, WA. -- School bus drivers are given the important task of bringing your kids to and from school. Sunday, the best bus drivers in Washington came to Yakima to show off their talent.
Washington school bus drivers drive students millions of miles each year. Rarely do you think about the skill it takes to drive one of these huge buses. Sunday at skill was put to the test.
For some of us, it's difficult enough to parallel park a car. Let alone a school bus.
"They cannot touch any of the barriers," one judge said. "Including the line. They can't touch any of that. It's a very difficult event, there's only a 6 feet difference between that and the length of the bus."
Forty-one contestants from the nine school districts around the state showed off their talents behind the wheel. And it was mere inches that made the difference.
"Drivers work very hard and prepare themselves months in advance for this event," Helen Chindell-Butler said. "Sometimes a whole year in advance."
The special education buses had a competition all their own. But just because the buses are shorter, doesn't mean it was any easier. Teams of two handled actors pretending to be unruly students who tried to make life more difficult. Then the drivers had to do the driving challenges with a screaming bus load of kids.
Overall drivers say the competition is a very positive experience.
"I've been driving a bus for 27 years and every time I do rodeo I learn something new," Debbie Randall said.
"I believe that it's a confidence builder," Reg Clarke said. "I've seen drivers come in to this thing being scared to death and coming out and saying you know what, I really did OK."
So next time you're driving and have to pull into a tight spot, count your lucky stars. At least you're not driving a school bus.
One champion from this competition will move on to the Finals in Charleston, South Carolina.. And the grand prize? Well it's just a trophy and the pride of knowing that you are the best school bus driver in the nation.