NHTSA Advisory for 15-Passenger Vans
It is common knowledge that there have been fatal accidents and rollovers of 15-passenger vans. These vans appear to be inherently dangerous, but interestingly enough rather than ban them the US Government has put out a safety advisory on how to manage these vans. Some of this advisory will be listed below for the benefit of those people still driving these vans. The full advisory can be found at http://www.nhtsa.gov.
One of the more interesting advisories is that one should not put more than 10 people in these 15-passenger vans. Product liability cases have demonstrated that this van has caused many injuries and fatalities to innocent people, so the advice is not to put 15 people in them, rather than consider the inherent design defects, is interessting. The following advisories seem to be the best that the government can do about these vans and it is very important to adhere to this advice. These are some of the NHTSA guidelines:
Tire Pressure - Inspect the tires and check tire pressure before each use. The van's tires need to be properly inflated and the tread should not be worn down. Excessively worn or improperly inflated tires can lead to a loss of vehicle control and ultimately a rollover. Pressure for front and back tires may be different and pressure is likely higher than that required for car tires. A placard on the driver's side B-pillar or the owner's manual lists manufacturer recommended tire size and pressure.
Driver - 15-passenger vans should only be operated by trained, experienced drivers who operate these vehicles on a regular basis. The driver needs to possess a valid driver's license for state of residence (a commercial driver's license is preferred). 15-passenger van drivers need additional training since these vehicles handle differently than passenger cars, especially when fully loaded.
Size - A 15-passenger van is substantially longer and wider than a car, and thus requires more space to maneuver. It also requires additional reliance on the side-view mirrors for changing lanes.
Speed - Drive at a safe speed based on driving conditions. Driver should never exceed the posted speed limit. Slow down if the roads are wet because these vehicles do not respond well to abrupt steering maneuvers and require additional time to brake.
Cargo - Cargo should be placed forward of the rear axle and placing any loads on the roof should be avoided. Do not tow anything behind the van. See vehicle owner's manual for maximum weight of passengers and cargo and avoid overloading the van.
Seat Belts - All occupants need to wear seat belts at all times. Inspect seat belts regularly and replace any missing, broken or damaged belts and/or buckles. An unrestrained 15-passenger van occupant involved in a single-vehicle crash is about three times as likely to be killed as a restrained occupant.
Please be very cautious in these 15 passenger vans. It is important to note that some colleges have banned their use for all of their activities and many schools have done the same. For more information, see Canada Comes Closer to Ban on 15-Passenger Vans.