A Rimbey bus driver placed second in the 49th Annual School Bus Driver International Safety Competition.
Dodo Freerksen works for First Student in Wold Creek Public Schools and Wild Rose Public Schools as a guaranteed spare driver out of Rimbey.
Freerksen clinched second place in the “Small Bus” category during the competition in Austin, Texas held by the National School Transportation Association July 20-21.
“I was expecting to be in the Top 10, maybe even the Top 5, but I didn’t think I would be taking a trophy home,” said Freerksen. “That was really great.”
This is the fourth time he has been to compete at the international competition, but his first appearance in small bus resulted in his first trophy.
His first trip to the international competition was in 2007, where he competed alongside his wife, Tammy.
Until this year, Freerksen hadn’t been able to crack the Top 10 at the international level competition.
Freerksen, who has been driving a bus since 2003, says he started competing because it is a way to “get back to the basics” and refresh habits.
The Safety Competition is geared to student safety and always features a surprise event.
This year’s surprise event focused on the driver’s ability to check for sleeping children at the end of the route and their ability to effectively shut down the child check system prior to exiting the bus.
“It was a fun way of doing it, you’re meeting drivers and stuff like that, and I just happened to be good at it,” he added.
Freerksen had to qualify for his spot in the international competition by having no preventable accidents throughout the school year, placing in the Top 3 in his division at the local level, then claiming the top spot at the provincial competition.
The Alberta Student Transportation Advisory Council (ASTAC) Provincial School Bus Roadeo was held in Red Deer on June 8.
“Parents need to know their kids are being safely transported,” said Freerksen of the professionalism and skill of bus drivers, adding they will protect the kids they are hauling.
“Students transported on a school bus are 17 times more safe than in their personal vehicle… that’s quite the difference,” he continued.
Freerksen will continue to compete in the future because it is something he enjoys doing.