Car Accidents Comments Off
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a safety alert warning drivers and commuters about the danger of 15-passenger vans. The safety agency is urging 15-passenger van users to take appropriate precautions to guard against the possibility of a tragic rollover crash. NHTSA says a number of factors make 15-passenger vans dangerous for group travel. Here are some of the common causes of catastrophic 15-passenger van crashes:
- Overloading: NHTSA’s research shows that overloading 15-passenger vans increases the risk of rollovers significantly because it makes the vehicles more unstable especially while handling maneuvers.
- Lack of experience: NHTSA recommends that only experienced drivers who are familiar with handling the vehicle should operate these vans.
- Tire inflation: Improperly inflated tires are another common reason for 15-passenger rollover accident. According to NHTSA’s statistics, 30 percent of these vans have at least one significant under-inflated tire. Vehicle users must ensure that the vans have properly sized and load-rated tires that are inflated before every trip. Spare tires must not be used as replacements for worn tires.
- Proper maintenance: Suspension and steering components must be inspected according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.
- Seatbelt use: All passengers must wear seatbelts on every trip. NHTSA estimates that 88 percent of those killed in 15-passenger van rollover crashes were not buckled up.
Barely a day after NHTSA issued this warning, a 46-year-old woman was killed and many others were injured after a 15-passenger van rollover accident on Florida’s turnpike after a tire tread separation. The van was carrying a church group on a mission trip. There is no question that these vehicles are dangerously unstable and cause serious accidents.
Among the design flaws of these 15-passenger vans is that they use stadium-style seating where passengers in the rear of the vehicle are sitting at a slightly higher elevation than those in front. In the event of a tire blowout, these vans could become unsteady and overturn, as it happened in Florida.
Incidents such as this one in Florida are also a warning to organizations to stop using these vans to transport groups. They may be donated or available cheap, but they are dangerous. Given what we know today about the danger of 15-passenger vans it is unacceptable and unreasonable for universities, childcare centers and churches to be using them for group transportation.