We’ve written about the dangers of 15-passenger vans in the past. These controversial vehicles are still commonly used in the United States, despite hair-raising accident statistics (more on those later). But in Canada, a horrific tragedy known as the “Boys in Red Accident” led to major reforms. Why do 15-passenger vans put their passengers at such a high risk for death and serious injury, and what are the laws today? Our Philadelphia accident attorneys explain:
15-Passenger Van Collision Kills 8 in Canada
The date was January 12, 2008, and a 15-passenger van was trundling down New Brunswick Route 8 between the hours of midnight and one in the morning. 15-passenger vans are used, of course, to transport groups; and this particular van was carrying the Bathurst High School boys basketball team back to their hometown after a game in Moncton. On this occasion, a drizzle of freezing rain made the roads slick and difficult, and visibility was poor. The van was almost done with its journey, near the border of Bathurst, when the driver lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a semi-trailer truck. Three rows of seats had been completely torn from the frame of the van, and eight people were killed. The coach’s wife and seven members of the team were pronounced dead at the scene, and another four were non-fatally injured, with one in critical condition. Rob Daley, twin accident survivor Tim Daley, remembers the morning of the accident vividly. “My dad woke me up the next morning, tears in his eyes,” Daley says, “and he comes in my room and he says I got to tell you something…first thing he says is that my brother is okay…but then he told me seven of those guys, eight including the coach’s wife, didn’t make it. That’s when it hits you. It was a dark, dark morning.”
Tragic Accident Leads to Canadian Ban on 15-Passenger Vans
The Boys in Red Accident, as it would come to be called, shocked and saddened people across Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the nation to observe a day of mourning, and condolences poured in from countries around the world. But what had gone so wrong? In the investigation following the accident, it was noted that the driver may have been fatigued. But the lion’s share of the blame fell squarely on a dangerous and defective vehicle. Investigators found that when the accident took place, the van was sorely lacking on multiple basic safety fronts. The tires were worn. The brakes were faulty. Corrosion had begun to eat its way into the van. The accident wasn’t the first time the dangers of 15-passenger vans were called into question — on the contrary, it was the final straw. In 2004, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 120 deaths resulting from 15-passenger van accidents, and it’s well known that 15-passenger van design gives them a tendency to roll over when crashes do happen. New policies adopted after the tragedy included:
- Replacing 15-passenger vans with school buses.
- Mandatory use of snow tires during the fall and winter months.
- 15-passenger vans must be covered by liability insurance ranging from $1 million to $5 million depending on the number of occupants.
Today, a memorial to the victims looks over the grounds of Bathurst High School. 15-passenger vans are notoriously flawed vehicles. If you were injured in a 15-passenger van accident, or if a loved one was hurt or killed, you may be entitled to financial compensation. To arrange a free, confidential case evaluation, call the law offices of Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000, or contact us online today.