Bus driver to test skills at international safety competition

Tammy Freerksen, whose cheerful smiling face is most often seen in the driver’s seat of a big yellow school bus

School Bus Driver Tammy Freerksen from Rimbey is one of two conventional school bus drivers from Canada who will attend the International Safety Competition in Tulsa

School Bus Driver Tammy Freerksen from Rimbey is one of two conventional school bus drivers from Canada who will attend the International Safety Competition in Tulsa

Tammy Freerksen, whose cheerful smiling face is most often seen in the driver’s seat of a big yellow school bus transporting her precious cargo safely to and from school will take her skill as a bus driver to an international level next month.

Freerksen, a Rimbey school bus driver won second in a bus road-eo in Airdrie in May, advancing to a provincial competition held in Leduc in June.

She won second in provincials as well, qualifying her to attend the international safety competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 20 and 21.

Freerksen is excited about the upcoming competition, noting there is only one other school bus driver from Canada who will be competing.

Although she has 14 years’ experience as a bus driver and is confident in her job, she said competing in the road-eo is challenging and pushes her out of her comfort zone.

“It is different competing because you don’t have the kids in the bus,” she said. “That puts you out of your comfort zone.”

The road-eo consists of a written test comprised of 50 multiple-choice questions, a vehicle inspection test and then several road tests.

Freerksen’s bus route includes transporting school children on the Lochart and Leedale roads south of Rimbey.

She began driving school bus when her children were young as it was a job which she could work around her family’s schedule.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “I wouldn’t still be doing it, if I didn’t.”

As it happened, driving a school bus turned out to be a family vocation, as her husband Dodo, also is a spare school bus driver.

Both Freerksens qualified for an international road-eo competition several years ago.

The safety competition gives drivers an opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism, skill and dedication to pupil transportation. The event culminates with an awards banquet and ceremony, where the winners of the competition are announced.

The competition began in 1971 as the National School Bus Safety Road-e-o, and continues to take place on an annual basis.