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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), and the National Park Service (NPS) held a surprise inspection for all commercial for hire multiple passenger tour buses in the park today. The purpose of these unannounced inspections is 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.
Roadside inspections adhere to the guidelines of the North American Standard for bus safety. 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 appreciates the mutual support of the other agencies involved in these surprise bus inspections.
There were 24 buses inspected in the park today. Out of the 24 inspections, 9 were found to be safe and were released with no citation. A total of 15 buses were cited for unsafe operation and 2 were taken out of service.
These surprise inspections will continue through tomorrow, June 11, 2009.