MACOMB, Illinois -- The Macomb Police Department has been randomly escorting school buses on the look out for stop arm violations.
According to Illinois law, it is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped with its stop arm extended. The law carries stiff penalties for a first offense.
"There won't be any warnings," said Macomb Police Officer Tom Duvall. "It will be a state citation, which will result in suspension of their driver's license, because the safety of the children is obviously number one."
The department has offered occasional bus detail on a random basis for the last several years, but a recent series of deadly accidents involving school children around the country has drawn a sharper focus to the issue of school bus safety.
"I would ask the drivers on the road and the general public to please pay attention when you`re driving," said Deb Nelson, who has been driving a school bus for 21 years.
Bus drivers must turn on their flashing lights 100 feet ahead of each stop. That extends to 200 feet in the country. In most newer bus models, the flashing stop arm will extend automatically when the driver opens the door for children to board.
But even with these safety features and the occasional police escort, Nelson says that children's safety lies with everyone sharing the road.
"If you are anywhere near a school bus, please pay attention when you see those lights come on and when that stop arm comes out, stop for the bus. It`s the law," she said.