Between 1994 and 2004, 1,512 large passenger vans were involved in fatal crashes. As school wraps up and an increasing number of our children jump into 15-passenger vans for camps, church groups, and other adventures, you should make sure to know the dangers of these vehicles.
Large Vans Are More Dangerous Than Other Passenger Vehicles
Large passenger vans (typically holding 12-15 people) are much more dangerous than a normal car or truck. For example, due to their high center of gravity, rigid structures, and seating configurations, they have a higher risk of rollovers. While only one-third of single-car accidents are rollovers, more than 50% of single-passenger vans roll over.
They are also longer and heavier, making them more difficult to handle in an emergency or on wet and slippery roads. This additional weight can also make a collision much more dangerous.
“While only one-third of single-car accidents are rollovers, more than 50% of single-passenger vans roll over.”
Warning Signs of a Dangerous Passenger Van
Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to avoid a crash. However, before you or loved one ride in a large van, look for these problems:
When passenger vans are fully loaded, the seating arrangements tend to place excessive weight on the rear tires. If the tires have been used beyond their estimated life (even if the tread depth is good) or if they are underinflated, the pressure can cause a blowout. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 57% of large vans have underinflated tires.
Poor maintenance of a passenger van’s tires, brakes, and other safety systems can cause collisions and rollovers. If you have concerns about the vehicle’s safety, ask the operator whether he or she checks the tire pressure on a weekly basis and when it was last inspected by a mechanic.
Overloading the Van
Many organizations will only carry 5-10 people in their large vans. Even though they claim a larger capacity, passenger vans are three times more likely to roll over when they’re loaded with more than ten people.
And overloading the vehicle with cargo can cause handling and tire problems in a large passenger van. A 15-passenger van should also never use a rooftop carrier — it raises its already high center of gravity and the risk of a rollover. Van manufacturers also set specific guidelines for how much weight you should pack into a large passenger van and where you should place it. If the van is overloaded and improperly packed, the risk of a rollover or other crash increases significantly.
Not Using Seatbelts
Because passenger vans are frequently used by schools, youth groups, and other organizations, their occupants sometimes treat them like school buses and ignore their seat belts. However, 70-80% of the people who die in passenger van crashes aren’t wearing seatbelts. And 41% of them are ejected from the vehicle in the crash. Make sure your loved ones know they should always wear a seatbelt, even in a large passenger van.
Lack of Driver Training
While Texas does not require a CDL to operate most 15-passenger vans, responsible organizations require their drivers to undergo training before they take the wheel. Don’t hesitate to ask the driver how much training they’ve had.
Passenger vans and high speeds are a dangerous combination due to their poor handling, heavy weight, and high center of gravity. When a large van goes over 50 miles per hour, the chance of a rollover increases significantly.
Protect Your Rights After a Large Passenger Van Crash
After a crash, your first priority should be your safety. Call emergency services in order to get a police report on file for the crash and get prompt medical attention for your injuries. As soon as you are able to, call an experienced vehicle wreck lawyer.
Depending on your circumstances, you might have claims against the owner and/or operator of the passenger van, its manufacturer, and other negligent drivers. You might also have claims with your own insurance policies if you have personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. A lawyer can help you identify all of your claims.
Because many 15-passenger van crashes are single-car accidents, it’s important that the van is preserved after the crash. Your lawyer and his or her experts might want to inspect the vehicle, looking for the root causes of the crash. If the owner of the van repairs the tires, brakes, or other parts, it might be impossible to identify the cause of the crash. If you contact a Texas car wreck lawyer immediately, he or she can help you issue “preservation letters” to prevent the van’s owner from disposing of valuable evidence.
Crosley Law Firm: We Fight for Passenger Van Victims in San Antonio and Across Texas
At Crosley Law Firm, we use our experience in large passenger van and bus cases to advocate for fair compensation for our clients. Our lawyers have access to advanced technologies that help us investigate large passenger van crashes and identify their causes. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, complete our online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000.
National Transportation Safety Board (2006, May). NTSB safety alert: 15-passenger vans. NTSB. Retrieved from https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-alerts/Documents/SA_001.pdf.
U.S. Department of Transportation. (n.d.). 15-passenger vans. NHTSA. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/15-passenger-vans.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.