Passenger vans, the kind that hold 15 people, are the vehicle of choice among church groups, youth organizations and colleges. However, despite their popularity, 15-passenger vans can be quite dangerous if not maintained and loaded properly. Failure to adhere to the safety guidelines for this type of vehicle can greatly increase the likelihood of a rollover accident. The following are just a few of the many reasons why 15-passenger vans can be dangerous, if not used properly:
- More passengers can mean more danger: According to a research study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when a 15-passenger van is carrying 10 or more passengers the likelihood of the van being involved in a single rollover accident increases three fold as compared to vans that are carrying less than five passengers. This is in part due to the fact that these vehicles possess a high center of gravity when empty, which become even higher when fully loaded. Therefore, it is critical that a 15-passenger van carry no more than 15 passengers.
- Safety belts are a must: A greater number of van passengers choose not to wear safety belts. However, it is important to keep in mind that a passenger van is not designed with the same safety mechanisms as a school bus. This combined with the fact that passenger vans are more unstable makes it extremely important for all van passengers to where safety belts at all times. It is estimated that a 15-passenger van occupant who is not wearing a safety belt is three times more likely to be killed in a single vehicle accident than an occupant who is wearing a safety belt.
- Overall size of vehicle: A 15-passenger van is not only significantly longer than a traditional car or van, it is also substantially wider. Therefore, a driver of a passenger van should be properly trained and have significant operating experience. This is because due to their weight and size when fully loaded, passenger vans handle very differently than a typical vehicle. A driver that is not accustomed to driving a passenger van can put the van's occupants in serious danger.
- Failure to maintain tires: Like any other vehicle, the tires of the 15-passenger van are the only point of contact between the van and the road. Improperly maintained tires on a 15-passenger van can increase the likelihood of a rollover accident. It is estimated that more than 50% of 15-passenger vans have at least one tire that is significantly under inflated. Before a passenger van leaves on an outing all tires should be checked to be ensure that each tire is at the pressure level indicated in the owner's manual. Tires should also be checked for wear. It is recommended that a 15-passenger van not operate with tires more than 10 years old or on a spare tire, which can lead to handling problems.
- Loading is critical: Since weight distribution contributes significantly to a 15-passenger van's overall stability, careful attention must be paid when loading a van. If the van is holding cargo it should be placed forward of the rear axle. A passenger van should never exceed its maximum weight and should not tow anything behind it.
If you were seriously injured after being involved in a passenger van accident you need to speak with a compassionate and skilled Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney. Seasoned Kansas Injury Attorney Charles Hyland, has helped countless numbers of auto accident victims obtain the compensation they deserved. For more than twenty years the Hyland Law Firm has aggressively fought on behalf of auto accident victims. To schedule your free and completely confidential consultation contact the Hyland Law Firm, LLC today at (913) 498-1911. At the Hyland Law Firm, LLC, we will use our skill and experience to tirelessly advocate on your behalf.