On Saturday, April 13th, a van overturned in Kenansville, Florida, killing the driver and injuring 19 members of a church group—many of whom were children. The immediate cause of the accident was a tire problem that caused the 15-passenger van to roll over several times, forcing the driver to be ejected. The fact that the van was overloaded with people and luggage did not help, but it is a known fact that, even when such vehicles are carrying a normal load, they are extremely dangerous.
The 15-Passenger Van Has Serious Design Flaws
Like the ordinary oversized van, it has a high center of gravity. But, in addition, its back extends far beyond the rear wheels—by as much as four feet—which increases the likelihood of rollover. When fully loaded with 15 people, the van’s center of gravity is raised, and it becomes very hard to handle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the chances of rollover for this type of van increase more than 400 percent when it is fully loaded. In fact, a 15-passenger van carrying 15 people and their luggage has a 70% greater chance of being involved in a rollover accident than any other vehicle on the road.
Obviously, if a vehicle is dangerous when carrying its maximum load, it is going to be even more dangerous when carrying an extra five people. Yet the sad reality is that 15-passenger vans are commonly rented by small organizations as a means of providing affordable transportation, and they are often overloaded. Moreover, they are most often driven by people who lack the training and experience to drive them properly. To a great extent, this is because the public is not fully aware of the dangers of these vehicles, and—even though the NHTSA has recommended that a special license is required in order to drive them, it is still not required. The result is that these extremely dangerous vehicles are being used to transport small groups of innocent people while being driven by amateur drivers who do not realize the dangers they face
Indeed, 15-passenger vans pose very particular driving challenges. They are extremely hard to park, back up, and drive around corners. Simply turning the steering wheel too far is enough to shift their center of gravity. Because of their size, drivers need to rely heavily on side mirrors to judge braking distances and change lanes. Additionally, they are apt to fishtail on wet or icy roads.
The odds of an accident, then, are very great. Yet there are currently more than half a million 15-passenger vans registered in the United States, with little likelihood that driving requirements will change or design flaws will be remedied. There is also little chance that the small organizations that use them will be properly warned of their dangers.
The van accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm are experienced in handling accident cases similar to the one that just took place in Florida. They understand both the design defects of the vehicles and the personal trauma of the accidents they cause.
Contact Philadelphia Automobile Accident Lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm
The 15-passenger van rollover attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have been recognized by their peers as having the highest possible rating in both legal abilities and ethical standards. They are consistently recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and are members of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Attorneys. They have the skill and expertise that it takes to handle accidents involving these very dangerous vehicles. Call today to schedule a free consultation – (215) 246-9000.