One of the most dangerous vehicles on the road today is the 15-passenger van. For better or worse, it is a vehicle marketed for use by sports teams, church groups, elderly homes, and other multi-member organizations. It’s not uncommon to drive down the highway and see these vans packed full of energetic youth. Unfortunately, studies show that many will not make that trip unscathed.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a passenger van accident, trust the skilled and compassionate New York van accident attorneys of Schwartzapfel® Lawyers P.C. to help you navigate the difficult time ahead.
15-Passenger Vans Are Inherently Unsafe For Passengers
According to an analysis done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 15-passenger vans are three times more likely to roll over in single vehicle crashes when there are 10 or more occupants inside of the van, compared to those vans with less than 5 people. The most recent report done by the NHTSA revealed that in 2007, 15-passenger van fatalities increased nearly 20% from the previous year.
That same study showed that the odds of rollover for a 15-passenger van increased more than 400% when at maximum capacity, compared with a driver traveling alone. For each additional person added to the vehicle, the rollover risk increases 9-12%.
The numbers are shocking, and put into focus the reality that 15-passenger van accidents kill and injure more people than single passenger vehicles. What makes these numbers even worse is that, oftentimes, the passengers in these vans are young people. In fact, the median age group for passenger fatalities is 25-34.
According to an NHTSA mandate, 12-15 passenger vans are prohibited from being sold or leased as new vehicles to carry students – high-school aged or younger – to or from school and daycare facilities on a regular basis.
15-Passenger Vans Can Be Dangerous For Drivers
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the driver death rate in 15-passenger vans is lower than in other passenger vehicles, but the occupant death rate in the vans is similar. During 2009-13, there were 26 driver deaths per million registered 15-passenger vans, which accounts for less than half the driver death rate (66) for all other passenger vehicles combined (cars, minivans, pickups and SUVs).
Protecting Your Loved Ones From Unnecessary Harm
The NHTSA recommends the following safety tips for anyone planning a trip in a 15-passenger van:
- Travel with as few passengers as possible.
- Don’t overload the van with excess gear.
- Don’t stack gear on top of the van.
- Insist that the driver and all passengers wear seatbelts.
- Ensure that the vehicle is regularly maintained by insisting on seeing service records – suspension and steering components should be inspected according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and serviced as needed.
- All tires should be properly sized and load-rated for the vehicle.
- Ensure that drivers are properly licensed and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van.
- Tire pressure and wear should be checked before every trip.
In a research report related to improper tire maintenance on 15-passenger vans, the NHTSA found that 74 percent of all 15-passenger vans had tires that were not correctly inflated. By contrast, 39 percent of passenger cars were found with significant inflation problems. NHTSA research has consistently shown that improperly inflated tires can drastically change the handling of such vehicles, significantly increasing the prospect of a rollover crash.
To reduce the risks associated with 15-passenger vans, NHTSA safety advisories recommends that drivers require all occupants to wear safety belts at all times. Additionally, it is suggested that drivers of 15-passenger are trained and experienced, tires are checked at least once a week (implementing the manufacturer’s recommended pressure levels), and no loads are placed on the roof of the vehicle.
Laboratory tests conducted for the NHTSA found that the increased risk of rollover for 15-passenger vans was associated with their high centers of gravity. When test vehicles were fully loaded, the center of gravity increased 0.9 inches for minivans, 1.4 inches for seven-passenger vans, and 4 inches for 15-passenger vans.
Injured in a Van Accident? Contact Our Office Today
If you or someone you know has been involved in a passenger van accident, talk to us. Our experienced vehicle accident attorneys will work with our skilled network of experts to determine the cause of the accident, identify responsible parties, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Our experienced New York personal injury attorneys have a proven track record of success in obtaining fair monetary compensation for thousands of clients. Contact us today at 1-877-737-4806 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!