The California Highway Patrol (CHP), in partnership with the National Park Service, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Public Utilities Commission, Modesto Police Department, and San Francisco Police Department, conducted a surprise bus inspection in Yosemite National Park on Sept. 7-8. The bus inspection was planned in support of the nationwide campaign to improve tour bus safety.
The goal of the operation was to ensure tour bus safety by removing unsafe vehicles and disqualified drivers from service; thereby reducing traffic collisions and traffic congestion on state highways and county roadways throughout the Central Valley. The inspections focused on driver and carrier credentials, hours of service, and overall mechanical readiness of each bus.
The location was selected because nearly every tour bus that enters Yosemite National Park is required to drive on one, if not several, state highways or county roadways located within the Central Valley. Although inspections were conducted in Yosemite National Park, the operation helped to improve safety on all Central Valley roadways. In order to minimize any inconvenience to park guests, the inspections were conducted while passengers were on foot visiting the park.
During the two-day operation, 54 buses were inspected and approximately 65 violations were identified. Five buses were placed out of service due mostly to defective brake systems directly related to the safe operation of the vehicles. Additionally, two drivers were placed out of service due to licensing and log book violations. In most cases, on-site repairs were made or replacement buses or drivers were immediately dispatched to the scene, in order not to inconvenience Yosemite Valley guests.
The CHP plans to conduct more unannounced tour bus inspections in the future.