Yellowstone Park rangers will be conducting traffic safety checkpoints this holiday weekend.
Traditionally, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the summer season in Yellowstone National Park, making it very popular with visitors from close to home and abroad alike.
According to a Yellowstone press release, the traffic safety checkpoints will be set up throughout the Park, and will serve as a check against both congestion and reckless driving—for the safety of both Park visitors and wildlife. From a Yellowstone press release:
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.
Traffic safety checkpoints have been conducted several times over the past few years, including during Labor Day weekend in 2015 and throughout the month of June in 2014. The latter saw 328 drivers stopped, with ten citations issued and four arrests made. All four arrests were for people driving under the influence of alcohol.