Elementary students at St. Michael Catholic School had a very special and unusual guest visit Friday morning, Nov. 22, to help teach them about bus safety.

Buster the Bus brought squeals and giggles as he entered the gymnasium where the young students were gathered on the bleachers to learn all they would need to be safe when riding the school bus. Buster isn't one's typical school bus though. Instead, the remote-controlled, three-foot-tall replica of a full-sized bus came in playing music, blinking his eyes and even popped a wheelie before he got into bus safety.

Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Lovins and Franklin County Community School Corporation Director of Transportation Lynn Edwards were on site to help assist Buster in educating the children.  

After a brief introduction, Buster got right into the most important rules of bus safety:

Rule 1 – “Always obey the bus driver the first time he or she tells you to do something or to stop doing something.”
Rule 2 – “Sit down in your seat, keep your hands to yourself and talk quietly.”
Rule 3 – “Be at the bus stop on time and don't run around or horseplay in the street.”
Rule 4 – “Don't try to talk to the bus driver unless it is really important, like an emergency.”
Rule 5 – “Don't touch any of the bus equipment without asking the bus driver's permission and keep your hands and head inside the bus.”
Rule 6 – “Eating food or candy or chewing gum are not allowed.  You can have a clear bottle of water.”
Rule 7 – “Being on the bus is like being in the classroom other than you can still talk to your friends.”

Buster didn't do all the talking. Lovins and Edwards reiterated the important safety information in between rules.

“You can still have fun,” Lovins said. “But it is so important to follow these rules because we want you guys to be safe.”

Edwards also shared some of her concerns with the students.

“We have cameras on every school bus,” Edwards said. “And it really scares me when I watch the videos and see you doing some of the things we talked about because I care about your safety on the bus.”

When Buster was finished, he told the students goodbye, and Lovins and Edwards led the class outside to learn some additional bus safety tips. Once outside, Lovins and Edwards used a full-size FCCSC school bus as their example and demonstrated safety tips to the students.

Lovins showed the children the school bus driver's blind spot, also known as the danger zone around the bus. Lovins showed what the distance of the danger zone was by having the children take 10 steps away from the bus and then turn around. The area that was now between them and the bus is the danger zone, which is the same distance all the way around the bus, he explained.

Lovins then touched on an area of concern for most parents: safety tips for boarding the bus at the bus stop.

“Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop,” Lovins said. “The bus driver will then activate all the safety equipment, but it still isn't safe to cross the road to board the bus. Make eye contact with the bus driver and wait for the hand motion to alert you the bus driver has checked their mirrors, and it is safe for you to board. One last thing, always look both ways before crossing.”

Also covered were boarding and exiting properly, using hand rails and no pushing and shoving while getting on and off the bus.  

Another area that was stressed by Lovins was what to do if a student drops a belonging.

“Never go under the bus to get something,” Lovins said. “Always let the bus driver get it. It is already hard for the bus driver to see you and when you are bent over it, is twice as hard for you to be seen.”