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Fifteen-passenger vans typically have
seating positions for a driver and 14 passengers. They are widely used
by community organizations to take members on short trips and outings.
Colleges use them to drive sports teams to intercollegiate games and vanpools
use them for commuters.
Recent research conducted by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that the risk of a rollover
crash is greatly increased when 10 or more people ride in a 15-passenger
van. This increased risk occurs because the passenger weight raises the
vehicles center of gravity and causes it to shift rearward. As a
result, the van has less resistance to rollover and handles differently
from other commonly driven passenger vehicles, making it more difficult
to control in an emergency situation. Placing any load on the roof also
raises the center of gravity and increases the likelihood of a rollover.
A rollover crash is a complex event, heavily influenced
by driver and road characteristics as well as the design of the vehicle.
In studies of single-vehicle crashes, NHTSA has found that more than 90
percent of rollovers occur after a driver has lost control of the vehicle
and has run off the road. Three major situations can lead to a rollover
in a 15-passenger van.
Over the past decade, 80 percent of people killed
in rollover crashes in 15-passenger vans were unbelted. Passengers can
dramatically reduce their risk of being killed or seriously injured in
a rollover crash by simply using their seat belts. Organizations that
own 15-passenger vans should have a written seat belt use policy. Drivers
should be responsible for enforcing the policy.
Seat belt use is especially critical because large numbers
of people die in rollover crashes when they are partially or completely
thrown from the vehicle. NHTSA estimates that people who wear their seat
belts are about 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash
than people who dont.
Significant differences in the design and handling
characteristics of a 15-passenger van make it drive differently from other
passenger vehicles. Therefore, an organization that owns a 15-passenger
van should select one or two experienced drivers to drive the van on a
regular basis. These drivers will gain valuable experience handling the
van. This experience will help make each trip a safe one.
Because most rollover crashes dont involve
other vehicles, they are often preventable. Here are some tips for drivers
to minimize the risk of a rollover crash and serious injury:
When a 15-passenger van is not full, passengers
should sit in seats that are in front of the rear axle.
More than 15 people should never be allowed to
ride in a 15-passenger van.
Because a 15-passenger van is substantially longer
and wider than a car, it:
Reprinted with permission from the National Highway
Transportation & Safety Administration
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