Watch it, Buster!
Special helper adds fun to school bus safety lesson
By Tom Smith, Times Daily 11/17/06
The miniature yellow bus rolled across the gym floor, its eyes open and lights blinking, as Leighton Elementary School students watched in amazement.
For about 40 minutes, Buster the School Bus cracked jokes with the students and poked fun at the physical education coach as well as leaving the students with some very important information about school bus safety.
“It’s all about fun and learning,” said Bryan Nash, the voice of Buster the School Bus.
Nash travels throughout the state with the robotic school bus, teaching students about the dos and don’ts of school bus safety.
“We talk about things like getting up on time, which helps get students to the bus stop on time; where to stand when waiting on the bus; and how to load and unload the bus as well as how to act once on the bus,” said Nash, a former school bus inspector for Alabama.
As the voice of Buster, Nash told students they are to stand 10 feet away from the roadway at bus stops and to wait until the bus stops before loading.
Nash said loading and unloading are the most dangerous parts.
Buster suggested to the students that they walk — not run — in a straight line while they load and to always watch for the bus driver to make sure it is OK to load.
“When unloading, you should always look both ways before stepping off the bus,” Buster told the students.
The students also heard about things they should and shouldn’t do while riding the bus.
In addition, Buster showed the students about what is considered the “danger zone,” which Nash said it is 10 feet around the school bus.
“In the danger zone, the driver cannot see the students,” he said. “In the danger zone is where the most student accidents occur.”
In Alabama, statistics indicate that more than 50 percent of the state’s students are transported to school on buses.
Leighton elementary Principal Alan Willingham said the majority of the students in his school ride the bus.
“So, this is something they can really relate to,” Willingham said.
Jean Bolton, a supervisor with the Colbert County Board of Education Transportation Office, said Buster visited all of the county’s elementary schools and Cherokee Middle School.
“I think it’s made a lasting impression on the students,” she said.
Nash said the program is about safety “first and foremost.”
“If they can remember Buster, then it’s likely they’ll remember the rules that make them safer,” Nash said.
“And if this keeps just one from being injured, it’s worth it.”