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Davis Journal

Bus driver still going strong at 80

May 06, 2021 10:12AM ● By Jackie Kartchner

Don Sims started driving a school bus at 73. He’s 80 now but has no intension of slowing down. Photo by Jackie Kartchner

FARMINGTON—Don Sims, an 80-year-old Farmington resident, is still going strong and driving a school bus for Davis School District.  “I wake up in the morning, get out of bed, shower, dress, shave, eat breakfast – and then what? I go have some fun,” he said. 

People might call him old, but he is well-qualified, having passed the DOT physical exam. Sims was also able to get his CDL and pass the physical assessment and training, as well as the use of Special Education equipment and on-the-road driving.

He was just a youngster, only 73, when he started driving on Aug. 5, 2013. “I decided to look into it because they were looking for drivers, and both my brothers have been driving for many years,” Sims said. “Now I drive because I love it. I love driving the bus. I love the kids.” 

Field trips are great for him too because he gets to go to many places where he has never been, gets in free, and gets paid for it.

Sims has a great sense of humor and loves to joke with the kids. Just before a five-day weekend, he told the kids he was sad for them because they wouldn't see him for five whole days. He hoped they wouldn't cry themselves to sleep and suggested they be brave and courageous. “When one little boy was getting off, he leaned over and very confidentially whispered, ‘One of those boys said that you are stupid.’” said Sims. “That must have meant that I couldn’t talk him out of crying himself to sleep.” 

Friday, March 13, 2020 was a sad day for many. It was announced that schools would be closed through spring break, then was extended through the end of the school year. “It was sad to be cut off so abruptly from the students on our routes without being able to bid them adieu for the year,” Sims said. In August, students began going to school on a limited basis, and new procedures were introduced, such as spraying hands with hand sanitizer while kids board the bus. The bus is disinfected after every run and students are required to wear face masks to cover their mouth and nose. He and the other drivers know these precautions are important and follow them carefully.

Sims gave these reminders for school bus safety:

  • Everyone on the bus must be seated while the bus is in motion. 
  • Everyone must stay seated until the bus door is open. 
  • No one is allowed to eat or drink on the bus. 
  • Riders must use their inside voices. 
  • They must follow the driver’s instructions. 
  • Bullying is not tolerated.
  • Skateboards, scooters, or roller skates are not allowed on. Large items, including large instruments and athletic equipment are also not allowed.

“Riding the bus is a privilege and not a right,” he said. “This privilege can be withdrawn if rules are not obeyed.”

Exiting the bus is a dangerous time for students, so they are instructed to cross the street in front of the bus while the red lights are flashing, said Sims. The red lights tell drivers they must stop and not proceed until the lights are off.

The lights on the school bus are for the purpose of protecting children, he said. When drivers see the emergency flashers, they must be cautious. When they see the yellow flashing lights higher up on the bus, they need to slow down to 20 mph because they are now in a school zone. The bus is going to stop and pick up, or drop off students. This does not mean drivers should speed up to avoid the red flashing lights. These lights mean drivers must come to a dead stop – not creep slowly by.