Passenger Van Safety

Passenger vans are a bit different as far as other passenger vehicles are concerned due to the fact that they are generally longer, higher, and wider. This is why, just like SUVs, we sometimes hear about unfortunate accidents happening in the news involving vans. For instance, this year in Ecaucus, New Jersey, police and firefighters worked diligently to extricate two people from a van after a grisly accident that ended up shutting down part of a New Jersey highway. A tractor-trailer struck the overpass and landed on the van, crushing the front end and slamming it into a barrier. The driver and passenger were trapped inside and were conscious when rescued; although the driver was released from the hospital, the passenger sadly passed away from his injuries.

The sad fact of the matter is that passenger vans are so common amongst people who utilize them for schools, day care centers, scout troops, churches, and more – and yet, they are one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road when it comes to rollover. This applies to every state, where the 15-passenger van comes into play to lug people from place to place in an easy manner. Many organizations are choosing to no longer allow people to be transported in these vans due to the risks and dangers that they pose. The vans may look normal to the human eye, sure, except for the fact that they have been lengthened to hold more riders. However, when these vans are fully loaded, they are three times more likely to roll over in case of an emergency.

Reports of Accidents
Astonishingly, there are approximately 500,000 passenger vans on the road. In one incident involving children from the First Baptist Church of Piedmost, SC, a 15-passenger van rolled on the highway with the children inside. Two children, brothers, ended up being rushed to the hospital where it was pronounced that one had suffered severe brain damage, never regained consciousness, and nothing could be done about it. This is the sad fact for so many people; facts say that, since 1990, at least 424 people have been killed and hundreds more seriously injured in rollovers involving these vans.

Why Do These Accidents Occur?
It is believed that the design, according to experts, is the issue – and what they mean by this is the weight and balance of the van. On most models, the car manufacturers have used the same wheelbase; however, on the 15-passenger van, the back end is extended. That means that, when it’s fully loaded, there’s a seat with four passengers behind the rear axle. This tends to make the back end heavy, so that when there’s a sudden swerve, the rear end swings out. Another issue is the fact that the van is so top heavy. It has a high center of gravity and, when there are more people on board, the more top heavy it will become.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that there is a greater risk of rollover in passenger vans due to inexperienced drivers, improperly sized and/or inflated tires, and incorrectly loaded cargo and passengers that affect the center of gravity on the vehicles. So what can be done to prevent these occurrences?

  • Don’t Use as School Bus
  • Check Your Tires
  • Buckle Up
  • Slow Down
  • Don’t Overload
  • Buy a Safer Van

Always follow the ‘Drivers’ System:

  • D: Driver should be well trained and experienced.
  • R: Rest well, as fatigue can affect driving and response time.
  • I: Inspect the vehicle before every trip, including tires.
  • V: Vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
  • E: Ensure all passengers are buckled up and side mirrors adjusted.
  • R: Replace old tires. Check the vehicle owner’s manual for correct size.
  • S: Safety is first.

If you are involved in a car accident of any kind, you may want to speak with an experienced accident attorney about a potential claim. Passenger vans can ultimately lead to accidents due to their unsafe nature. Speak to an attorney you can trust at MDL today. Call for a free consultation and see where you stand!