Buster the School Bus blinked his windshield eyes, flashed his lights, flirted, told jokes and played tricks in teachers last week when he visited East Lawrence Elementary School.
Tucked into the laughter, however, Buster delivered a very serious message to students from East Lawrence, Speake, Hazlewood and R.A. Hubbard Elementary Schools.
Buster is all about safety. But this year the normal message about school bus safety has been expanded. Buster is now adding pointers on what to do when students get off the bus and head home. He told children to go straight home before going to play.
He was also offering pointers to students about what to do about strangers hanging around the bus stop.
Buster’s alter ego is Bryan Nash, a former safety inspector for the state of Alabama. He is the voice of Buster using a special sound system that disguises his voice. He also uses remote controls to put Buster through his paces.
Nash sets the controls on a slanted podium. Most students never question how Buster operates. They are too delighted with the little bus that rolls around and asks for hugs.
Buster’s primary purpose is to help children learn how to be safe getting on and off the bus and riding in the bus.
“The most dangerous times for a student who rides a school bus comes with getting on and off the bus,” Nash told the students.
“Always line up single file and stand ten feet from the side of the road. Don’t attempt to get on the bus until the bus driver gives you the hand motion that it is OK.” Another thing Nash cautioned students about was letting their dog go with them at the bus stop in the morning or meet them in the afternoon.
“Dogs can get excited and get in the road. A car trying to avoid hitting the dog can run off the road and hit you,” he said.
Buster and Nash also warned children not to depend on adults to always obey the law. Cars and trucks are supposed to stop when the school bus stop sign is out and the lights are flashing. But too many drivers ignore the bus rules and drive on by while children are loading and unloading.
“You have to always look both ways,” Nash said.
Buster told the children about the school bus danger zones. He told students to always stay ten feet from the bus so the driver can see them.
Nash also had a special warning for teachers and students concerning field trips. Crossing the street is a dangerous time so extra care has to be taken.
Bus safety is a serious topic and a great concern for both parents and teachers. Delivering the safety message to students through Buster drives the rules his paces.