If you ride a commercial tour bus into Yosemite National Park, odds are incredibly great that there are varying safety problems with the rig, according to a recent surprise inspection of 153 buses.
Safety checks held between June 9 and June 20 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the California Highway Patrol, and the National Park Service resulted in 22 of the 153 buses inspected being immediately taken out of service, and 10 drivers also lost their driving privileges.
Just 47 buses and their drivers had no problems, according to a release from Yosemite.
"The purpose of these unannounced inspections," park officials said, "is to ensure visitor safety through safe operation of tour buses in an attempt to reduce chances of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving tour buses bringing passengers to Yosemite National Park."
There are five levels of inspections including a vehicle component, a driver component, or a combination of both. Inspections are designed to determine if buses are in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Violations may result in fines or taking a bus out of service immediately.
Yosemite National Park receives approximately 3.5 million visitors per year, with approximately 250,000 arriving on a tour bus. The large majority of tour bus passengers are international visitors from countries such as Japan, Korea, Germany, and England. Many of these visitors come to Yosemite in conjunction with visiting other parts of California. It is a primary concern of the NPS in Yosemite that these visitors are safe during their travels in the park. Further, the extensive travels of international visitors throughout the state affords the cooperating agencies to work together to promote bus safety. Yosemite National Park, the FMCSA, and the CHP strive to ensure visitor safety and appreciate the mutual support of the other agencies involved in these surprise bus inspections.
Over a period of five days of inspections, Yosemite Law Enforcement Rangers, CHP Patrol Officers, and Commercial Carrier Safety Inspectors examined 153 commercial buses. Out of 153 inspections, 47 buses were found to be safe and were released with no citation. A total of 55 minor fix-it tickets were written. In addition, 35 written citations and 27 verbal warnings were given for mechanical deficiencies. A total of 22 buses were placed out of service for mechanical deficiencies and 10 bus drivers were ordered out of service for logbook violations.
Additional surprise inspections will continue throughout the year.