What are the dangers associated with a fifteen-passenger van?
The defect associated with these type vans are so prevalent that the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reissued a cautionary warnings to all users of 15-passenger vans because of an increased rollover risk under certain conditions.
Dr. Jeffrey Runge's warnings, or restatement of an earlier warning issued in 2001, stems from NHTSA research, which shows that 15-passenger vans have an incredibly high rollover risk.
NHTSA revealed that the risk of 15-passenger van rollover increased dramatically as the number of occupants increased above 10 or more. In fact, 15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants have a rollover rate that is nearly three times the rate of vans which are only lightly loaded. "Because of these risks, it is vital that users of 15-passenger vans be aware of some safety precautions that will significantly reduce the risk," said Dr. Runge.
Because these vans are so unstable when loaded with passengers, NHTSA recommended that passenger vans only be operated by trained, experienced drivers.
The primary defect found in 15-passenger vans is the vehicle's high center of gravity, much the same as found in many defective SUVs on the road today. However, the more the vans are loaded with passengers, the more dangerous they become.
Fifteen-passenger vans typically have a body which extends over the rear axle, and the van's rear seats are mounted in the extended portion of the body. When the passengers are seated in the rear seat, it tends to make the van back-end heavy. In the event of a sudden swerve, the heavy and unbalanced rear-end swings out and causes the van to become uncontrollable, usually resulting in a rollover.
Federal law prohibits the sale of 15-passenger vans for school-related transport of high school-age and younger students; however, no such federal prohibition exists to prevent colleges or churches from using these dangerous vans. As a result, colleges and churches regularly use 15-passenger vans, and they are frequently driven by people who are unfamiliar with the van's unique characteristics and defects.
Our firm currently represents the family of a young man killed when a 15-passenger van he was riding in overturned resulting in several deaths and injuries. Fifteen-passenger vans are inherently unstable, and there have been numerous incidents of severe injuries and deaths related to the use of these vehicles. These vehicles are highly used by college sports teams as well as churches.
What can I do if I have been injured in an accident involving a fifteen-passenger van?
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving an fifteen-passenger van, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us today!