CHP conducts bus inspections in Kings Canyon National Park

FRESNO, Calif.

The California Highway Patrol conducts regular bus checks throughout the year, but this is first time they're doing one inside the Kings Canyon National Park.

Tour buses entering the park Sunday were first asked to pull over for an initial evaluation. If a bus hadn't undergone a thorough inspection for at least a year the driver was then asked to re-locate to a different area.

There, a team of California Highway Patrol officers checked things like, tire pressure, brakes, even paperwork proving the driver is healthy enough to operate the vehicle.

"Their log books. Drivers are required to drive only, or allowed to drive only ten hours during the day, then they have to have 8 hours of rest and that's very important because as of late, there's been a rash of accidents involving tour buses," Hector Madrigal said.

Just this past May, a tour bus crashed in Virginia killing four people. The company was operating despite previous violations for crashes and fatigued drivers. Authorities are now focusing on doing more inspections.

Kings Canyon National Park was specifically chosen because the number of tour buses entering the park has more than doubled over the past ten years. "We're getting over a thousand a year now, which is actually a pretty considerable number, particularly in the months of September, October, May and June," Edward Kelleher said.

During the inspections, tourists were allowed to exit the buses and tour nearby Grant Grove village.

One group traveled all the way from San Francisco to see the massive trees.

"Oh, I love it. Especially, when you have the kids, safety comes first." "So, you don't mind the delay?" "Not at all," Theodora Kounalakis said.

Sunday's operation netted investigators a few violations. One driver out of Colorado was cited for cracks in the windshield. Other drivers passed without any problems at all.

While these checks are random, the California Highway Patrol says they will do another one inside the park before the end of summer.

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