August 10, 2010
Grand Teton National Park rangers will conduct traffic safety checkpoints in the park on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday,
August 15. The goal of these checkpoints is to identify and correct safety violations and reduce the number of impaired drivers in an effort to make park roads safer for the traveling public.
Park law enforcement personnel are very committed to roadway safety and safe driving practices. With approximately 160 miles of paved roads, Grand Teton has some unique driving conditions that require motorists to use an extra measure of caution. For example, drivers need to be especially alert for wildlife during dawn, dusk and nighttime hours, when animals linger near to, and cross over, park roads in search of food and water. Other safety concerns include drowsiness or intoxication of the vehicle operator, which may lead to inattentive or impaired driving situations.
Motorists are reminded that federal law requires the occupants of a vehicle to wear seatbelts when driving on park roads. Other public safety issues that will be addressed during a checkpoint stop may include the use of child safety seats and the presence of inoperable headlights.
Park rangers have seen a noticeable increase in alcohol-related contacts in 2010 compared to the last two years. As of August 1st, 17 people have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)
in Grand Teton, and the peak travel season is still in full swing. In 2009, rangers handled 17 drunken driving incidents; 17 such incidents were also tallied in 2008, and 25 in 2007. Anyone charged with driving under the influence in the park faces prosecution in federal court and penalties that could include up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The last time Grand Teton rangers conducted traffic safety checkpoints, they processed over 300 vehicles. Forty of those vehicles were asked to pull into secondary interview areas where about 20 warnings were issued for violations ranging from expired vehicle registrations to inoperable lights and failure to wear safety belts; nine citations were issued for alcohol-related violations and possession of controlled substances.