The Dangers of 15-Passenger Vans

by Terry Bryant

The Dangers of 15-Passenger Vans

Two more serious 15-passenger van accidents occurred in 2015 that reminded everyone why it can be so dangerous – and often fatal – to ride in these vehicles. In March 2015, more lives were forever changed by a 15-passenger van accident. While traveling to Fort Myers, Florida to attend a weekend Palm Springs revival, eight people lost their lives and 10 more were injured. This rural accident in southwest Florida was one of this country’s worst 15-passenger van tragedies in years.

Fortunately, many businesses and community groups took these deadly accidents quite seriously and decided to start limiting their use of these larger vans.

Boy Scouts of America Took an Early, Important Stand on Using Large Passenger Vans

Concerned about the safety of all of the children and their leaders who often ride in these larger vans, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) passed a new rule. It stated that effective September 1, 2015, the organization would no longer approve the use of 15-passenger vans (manufactured before 2005) for transporting scouts to any activities.

This strong and decisive action has now caused many others to follow suit, even if they’re doing so less formally. To understand why some groups are taking this type of action, it’s important to look at the chief safety concerns with 15-passenger vans.

Most Problematic Aspects of 15-Passenger Vans

Although precise safety statistics still vary slightly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other similar agencies have reported that when 15-passenger vans carry 10 or more people, they are roughly three to five times more likely to roll over in an accident than similar (or smaller) vans carrying five or fewer passengers.

Other special concerns regarding 2005 and earlier big passenger vans include:

  • They often do not offer fully functional seatbelts for all passengers;
  • A number of them do not offer ESC– electronic stability control;
  • They’re too often overloaded with extra goods – and too many passengers – making it much harder for the driver to properly maneuver the vehicle;
  • The critical need to only allow adults to drive them who have completed specialized training for passenger vans of this increased size;
  • They should never be altered inside by adding or subtracting any interior seats;
  • Too many groups keep renting or using older vans with poor tire treads and improper inflation. The wrong level of air pressure in tires can directly cause a deadly accident;
  • Proper, ongoing maintenance remains critical for these vehicles. You must constantly check to be sure that their brakes, steering, and other features are being re-calibrated and/or replaced as needed.