Robotic bus helps teach students about safety

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, December 2, 2010

The students at Banks School had a blast with Buster the Talking School Bus Thursday but, when the laughter subsided, they took what Buster had to say seriously.

Speaking in a robotic voice, Buster told the students that school bus safety is no laughing matter.

“School bus safety starts at home,” Buster said. “Don’t get up and be running all around the house and be late for the bus. And, don’t miss the bus. If you do miss the bus, don’t run after it. Never ever run after the bus. And, when you line up at the bus stop, line up in a straight line with the tallest people in the back of the line so the bus driver can see everybody. And, when you are getting on the bus, wait for the bus to stop and stop traffic before you go to get on.”

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Buster had a lot more to say but his sidekick, Bryan Nash, also wanted to talk.

Nash, who has 30 years of experience in the public transportation field, joined Buster in an effort to let the students understand the important role they play in school bus safety.

“You play a part in how safe the bus can be,” Nash said. “When you do something distracting and cause the bus driver to look up in the mirror, he or she takes their eyes off the road just for a few seconds, anything can happen.

“It’s up to you to help keep the bus safe by sitting quietly and facing the front of the bus. Doing so also sets a good example for younger students. If they see you standing up or waving your hand out the window, they will think it’s all right for them to do that, too.”

Nash told the students that most accidents involving children and school buses happen when buses are loading and unloading.

“That’s the most dangerous time and most of those accident happen in the ‘Danger Zone,’” he said. “‘The Danger Zone’ is a 10-foot area all around the bus. When you are in the ‘Danger Zone,’ the bus driver cannot see anything in that zone. So, never step into the Danger Zone because, in a split second, something could happen.”

Nash shared with the students incidents where injuries occurred when children where in the “Danger Zone” and out of the sight of the bus driver.

Buster and his Side Kick told the students that, if they practice school bus safety, they are helping to keep themselves and all of their friends on the bus safe.

Mike Johnson, chief of transportation for Pike County Schools, said the school system runs 33 bus routes that cover more than 1,700 miles and transports 1,723 students.

“Safety is our main concern,” he said.

The School Bus Safety Program was presented three times at Pike County Elementary on Wednesday and at Banks Schools on Thursday and will be presented at Goshen Elementary School today.

It is sponsored by grant funding through the Pike County EMA.