Bus drivers delivering students safely to school
Ian Daykin has found joy in retirement as a bus driver for the Battle River School Division, driving 89 kilometres twice a day to deliver 47 students safely to and from school. Supplied
Oct. 15-21 is School Bus Safety Week across Canada. Here in Battle River School Division, school bus safety is a big issue.
Did you know:
• We have 81 school bus routes in BRSD?
• Nearly two thirds of our students take the bus back and forth to school?
• We employ 143 regular and substitute school bus drivers?
• Our school busses travel 2,172,856 kms per year? That’s more than 54 trips around Earth!
BRSD employs mechanics who do a stellar job of keeping school busses running well. Plus, school bus drivers receive training in how to be good drivers. We also try to help other drivers remember simple rules, like “don’t pass the school bus when the red lights are flashing.” This is because, in rural areas, children may come to the bus from either side of the road in order to climb on board. They may also cross the road as they get off at night. So, when the school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing, it doesn’t matter which direction you are travelling, you need to stop. A child’s life could depend on it.
Another aspect of safety is being able to manage what happens inside the bus. BRSD drivers also receive training in how to manage student behaviour. After all, it’s a big task to supervise a big group of kids between the ages of 6 and 18 while staying focused on the road.
All drivers take their role of providing a safe bus ride very seriously. They also know they are the first and last part of their passenger’s school day and they try hard to provide a positive start and finish.
Ian Daykin, for example, is in his third year of driving school bus. He travels an 89-kilometre route twice a day, to ensure 47 students get to school and back again safely. Ian “retired” in 2008 and began driving a bus in the fall of 2015. BRSD provides driver training and ongoing safety training, plus CPR and more. But for Ian, who has grown children and six grandchildren of his own, the best part of the day is seeing “these fresh-faced, smiling kids get on.”
He says his relationship with the students is based on “mutual respect and a few treats.” He greets them as they get on, looks them in the eye to be sure they know he really sees them, offers a “smart remark” as they get off and wishes them a good day. He also decorates periodically with seasonal items such as Halloween or hockey logos. Annually, there is a “party on the bus” day at the end of the school year when you might see a big yellow bus on the side of the road, with all the passengers up in the aisles dancing. “The kids probably think I’m corny,” he laughs, “but it works.”
For the most part, kids on Ian’s bus intermingle and chat, listen to music or watch out the window on their journey.
Ian has “basic, sensible” expectations for behaviour on the bus and doesn’t often have issues. Sometimes kids arrive dressed inappropriately for the weather and, though he’ll tolerate it one day if it happens the next he’ll get in touch with parents. Ian leads his students in mandatory bus evacuation practice twice a year and needs them all to know what to do in the event of an emergency.
He likes that he is the final authority on whether or not to run his bus route on any given day, because he is the best judge of the local weather and road conditions.
“My employer values my judgment and I appreciate that. I make my decisions based on keeping the kids safe — I know my limits and I am grateful it’s my call.”
Ian loves his “retirement job” and looks forward to seeing the students. “They bring joy to my life,” he smiles. “They are nothing but a pleasure.”
Diane Hutchinson is the Community Relations Advisor for Battle River School Division.