Passenger vans were originally designed in the 1970s to carry cargo. They specifically do not fall into the federal motor vehicle safety standards for buses or passenger cars. So, they are exempt from many of the federal regulations dictating safety requirements. Yet, 15-passenger vans are often utilized by childcare centers, senior centers, colleges and church groups to transport adults and children. There are many inherent dangers in the design of these vehicles and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has specifically stated that these hazardous vehicles should not be used to transport children. The question remains, if these vans are not safe for children, why should anyone ride in them?
NHTSA Restrictions on 15-Passenger Vans
NHTSA does not allow the new sale of 15-passenger vans for transport of children for a school. Vehicles that are used primarily to transport students are labeled as a school bus and 12 to15 passenger vans do not meet the requirements of a school bus. These limitations are placed upon passenger vans because they simply do not meet safety requirements. They do not perform well in crash tests and they have a high rate of rollovers.
Potential Dangers of Passenger Vans
According to a 2005 NHTSA report, passenger vans are more likely to be involved in a single-vehicle rollover accident then any other vehicle. This report on 15-passenger vans also reported two facts:
- 52 percent of all passenger van rollovers resulted in fatalities in 2003.
- 83 percent of all passenger van rollovers resulted in fatalities in 2000.
Federal officials hope that this drop in fatalities is a direct result of their issuing multiple warnings about this dangerous vehicle. What makes 15-passenger vans so hazardous is a dangerous combination of being prone to rollovers and having a weak roof. Also, studies have shown that the fuller the van is, the more likely it is to roll over.
Safety Tips for Passenger Van Travel
There is nothing you can do to eliminate the risk of a rollover accident, but there are steps you can take to minimize the dangers.
- Only allow experienced drivers behind the wheel. Passenger van drivers should have training and experience operating these vehicles.
- Limit the number of passengers. The lighter the load, the less likely a rollover accident will occur.
- Check the tires. The tire pressure in these vans should be monitored at least once a week.
All occupants should buckle up.
- Adjust the distribution of weight. Whenever possible, keep the occupants towards the front of the van. It’s safest to have the weight in front of the rear axle.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a van accident, please call to discuss your legal rights. E. Ryan Bradley will help you file an auto products liability claim against the auto maker to obtain fair compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.