12 & 15 passenger vans are more likely to be involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash than any other type of vehicle. In response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued updated safety advisory on these vehicles. The NHTSA has taken measures to educate operators to reduce fatalities of these vehicles’ high center gravity – particularly when fully loaded –and their increased chance of rollover. Organizations that use 12 & 15 passenger vans to transport students, seniors, sports groups or other members, need to be informed about how to reduce rollover risks, avoid potential dangers, and better protect occupants in the event of a rollover crash.
These NHTSA recommended 12 & 15 passenger van safety precautions include the following: Keep your passenger load light: NHTSA research has shown that 12 & 15 passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increase.
Require all occupants to use their seat belts or the appropriate child restraint: Wearing seat belts dramatically increases chances of survival during a rollover crash. Seatbelt use is especially critical because large numbers of people die in rollover crashes when they are partially or completely thrown from the vehicle. NHTSA estimates that people who wear their seat belts are about 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash than people who don’t.
If at all possible, seat passengers and place cargo forward of the rear axle – and avoid placing any loads on the roof: By following these guidelines, you’ll lower the vehicle’s center of gravity and lower the chance of a rollover crash.
Be mindful of speed and road conditions: Always obey the speed limit and be aware of road conditions and reduce speed accordingly. Drivers should only operate vehicle when well rested and fully alert.
What increases the risk of rollover crashes? Recent research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that the risk of rollover crash is greatly increased when 10 or more people ride in a 12 & 15 passenger van. This increased risk occurs because the passenger weight raises the vehicle’s center of gravity and causes it to shift rearward. As a result, the van has less resistance to rollover and handles differently from other commonly driven passenger vehicles, making it more difficult to control in an emergency situation. Placing any load on the roof also raises the center of gravity and increases the likelihood of a rollover.
What situations can cause a rollover? A rollover crash is a complex event, heavily influenced by driver and road characteristics as well as the design of the vehicle. In studies of single-vehicle crashes, NHTSA has found that more than 90 percent of rollovers occur after a driver has lost control of the vehicle and has run off the road. Major situations that can lead to a rollover crash are:
The van goes off a rural road. If this occurs, the van is likely to overturn when it strikes a ditch or embankment or when it runs onto soft soil.
The driver is fatigued or driving too fast for conditions. A tired driver can doze off and lose control. The driver can also lose control when travelling at high speed causing the van to slide sideways off the road. The grassy or dirt medians that line highways can often cause the van to overturn when the tires dig into the dirt.
The driver overcorrects the steering as a panic reaction to an emergency or to a wheel dropping off the pavement; especially at freeway speeds, this situation can cause the driver to lose control, resulting in the van sliding sideways and rolling over.
Does an experienced driver make a difference?Significant differences in the design and handling characteristics of a 12 & 15 passenger vans make it drive differently from other passenger vehicles. Therefore, renters should select one or two experienced drivers to drive the van.
What are some tips to minimize rollover crashes?
Avoid conditions that lead to a loss of control. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Make sure you are well rested and attentive, and always slow down if the roads are wet or icy.
Drive cautiously on rural roads. Be particularly cautious on curved rural road and maintain safe speed to avoid running off the road.
Maintain safe distance from other vehicles and allow longer stopping time.
More than 15 passengers should never be allowed to ride in a 15 passenger van.
Do not make abrupt steering maneuvers and make wide turns while reducing speed.