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The hazards of 15-passenger vans

Image: gerenme/iStockphoto

Fifteen-passenger vans can move multiple workers from one location to the next in one vehicle, cutting transportation costs. But it’s important to know that these vehicles present serious hazards.

“Research has shown that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10,” states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, adding that “15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants had a rollover rate in single-vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rate of those that had fewer than five occupants.”

NHTSA recommends the following:

Check tire pressure. Tires that are improperly inflated or excessively worn can result in the loss of vehicle control and potentially a rollover incident.

Be wary of spare tires. Even new-looking spare tires may be weak.

Use an experienced driver. “Fifteen-passenger vans should only be operated by trained, experienced drivers who operate these vehicles on a regular basis,” NHTSA notes. Additionally, drivers need to be well-rested and should never use a cellphone while driving.

Keep size in mind. Fifteen-passenger vans are much longer and wider than cars and require more room to maneuver and change lanes.

Take it slow. These large vans don’t respond well to sudden steering maneuvers, and they require extra braking time.

Don’t overload. Never load the van with more than 15 people. If the van isn’t completely full, have passengers sit in seats that are in front of the vehicle’s rear axle. The same goes for cargo. Refrain from placing any loads on the roof.

Always wear seat belts. “An unrestrained 15-passenger van occupant involved in a single-vehicle crash is approximately three times as likely to be killed as a restrained occupant,” NHTSA cautions.

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