Lessons drive bus safety

Not all lessons occur in the classroom.

Gary Owens and Dawne Burke use Barney the Bus to promote bus safety among students in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.

Gary Owens and Dawne Burke use Barney the Bus to promote bus safety among students in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.

Not all lessons occur in the classroom.

Bus drivers Gary Owens and Dawn Burke present a bus safety program to kindergarten, Grade 4 and Grade 8 students in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.

Much of the focus is on loading and unloading, as well as crossing safety, but they also discuss behaviour on the bus.

“We tell them it’s very important for them to manage their own behaviour, for the safety of everyone,” said Burke.

They also talk to students about bullying on the bus and how the driver is there to help.

“We tell them we have up to four cameras on a bus and audio,” said Owens.

“We don’t catch everything but if we can, we want to help.”

The kindergarten presentation is 90 minutes long, while the Grade 4 presentation lasts 45 minutes and the Grade 8 program is about an hour in length.

Owens said they are also considering adding a Grade 10 program where the focus is on bus safety as well as overall driving safety.

The need for the safety protocols is easily recognized as the two recount stories from bus drivers.

In some cases, motorists pass a bus although its flashing red lights are on.

“Every day in our district alone someone passes a bus with the red lights flashing,” said Owens.

Bobbi Johnson, district chairperson, is impressed with the program spearheaded by Owens and Burke.

“We appreciate all of the work they and all of our drivers do to keep our students safe,” she said.