15-Passenger Vans: Accident Waiting to Happen?

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Imagine a vehicle so unstable that it’s three times more likely to roll over at full capacity than vehicles carrying fewer passengers. Consider that if that vehicle does tip, your risk of serious injury or death increases by 73 percent. Want to go for a ride? Of course not. But many who travel in 15-passenger vans don’t realize the danger until it’s careening around them on a busy highway. As summer gets underway, more of these vans are likely to fill roads as churches, youth sports teams and camps look for economical ways to transport larger groups. The data shows the risk of injury is simply too great to climb aboard even once.

15-Passenger Van Accident Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 31 percent of fatal rollover accidents involving 15-passenger vans happen during the summer months. From 1997 through 2006, accidents involving these vehicles led to the deaths of more than 1,000 occupants. That figure does not include other fatalities, including passengers and drivers of other cars involved in the collisions. Consider these other alarming stats:

  • 83 percent of occupants killed in van crashes were not using seatbelts.
  • Vans with more than 10 occupants showed a greatly increased risk of an accident.
  • In 2004 alone, more than 120 occupants of 15-passenger vans died in crashes.
     

What makes these vehicles so inherently dangerous? It’s a combination of factors that involve design, safety features available on given model years and the basic road capabilities that can trick even the most experienced drivers into a fatal error.

Design Flaws and Problems with Large Passenger Vans

A van designed to carry an entire baseball team plus its coaching staff should have steering capability above that of a listing tugboat. Sadly, that’s not the case. Flaws in the design of these vehicles causes a number of problems for their drivers, including issues with weight distribution. The center of gravity in a fully-loaded van shifts to the rear of vehicle raising the risk that a driver could lose control in an emergency situation. Imagine your son’s day camp crammed into a van that needs to make a sudden stop. More than half the time, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, that van is going to roll over. Here are some other problems:

  • Changes in tire pressure due to weight can increase the risk of blowouts.
  • Optimal PSI is different for front and back tires leading to issues with over or under-inflation.
  • Older models (pre-2007) lack safety features that can increase stability and prevent rollover.
  • No certification is needed to operate a passenger van, leading to inexperienced drivers operating them.
     

As the data suggests, another car doesn’t need to collide with the van to cause an accident. All that needs to happen is for the van’s driver to make a sudden turn or stopping action, and the entire vehicle could roll.

Lawyers Representing Passenger Van Accident Victims

Our law firm has represented dozens of victims and their families who’ve had their lives irrevocably altered by a van crash. I’m traveling to another scene today, even as I finish this post, to help experts reconstruct the terrible events that transpired. If you or someone you love is hurt in a rollover incident involving a passenger van, contact my law firm today at (215) 246-9000 for a free review of your case. You deserve comprehensive legal assistance for the pain and suffering someone else’s carelessness has forced you to endure.

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