Park rangers will conduct traffic safety checkpoints in Yellowstone National Park this weekend. The goals of the checkpoints are to identify and correct traffic and safety violations and to identify any impaired drivers to help ensure park roads are safer for the travelling public. With more than 300 miles of paved roads, Yellowstone’s driving conditions can be extremely challenging due to high traffic volume, stopped vehicles, rapidly-changing weather conditions, wildlife, and even people, on roadways.
The checkpoints are conducted with the assistance of local law enforcement agencies and include vehicle inspections, as well as assessments of driver awareness and impairment. Vehicle inspections include a check for proper maintenance of equipment such as tires, brakes, headlights, and taillights. Law enforcement park rangers will look for signs of drowsiness or intoxication of a vehicle operator, which may lead to inattentive or impaired driving situations.
The checkpoints are also designed to ensure compliance with the federal laws requiring all occupants of vehicles to wear seatbelts and governing the proper use of child safety seats. During the checkpoint contact, rangers will remind motorists to be alert for the presence of wildlife on or along the roadways, especially during the low light conditions between dusk and dawn and will be offering each vehicle a multilingual handout on wildlife safety.
Park rangers have seen a noticeable increase in impaired driving contacts over the past few years compared to previous years. Drivers charged with “driving under the influence” in Yellowstone face prosecution in federal court and penalties that can include up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.