15-Passenger Van Safety Hazards
June 2004 - NHTSA repeats warning on the hazards of 15-passenger vans - click here
15-passenger vans are used by churches, daycare and eldercare centers, schools, universities, and airport shuttle services -- yet they are extremely hazardous vehicles. Originally manufactured as cargo vans, automakers never redesigned these vehicles to safely transport people. When five or more passengers are riding in these vans, the likelihood of rollover increases dramatically. Because the rear of these vans extend 4 to 5 1/2 feet beyond the rear wheels, any loading of five or more people or luggage/equipment causes instability during emergency maneuvers such as sudden turns to avoid a pedestrian or vehicle. This causes the vans to fishtail, and because they are top heavy and overloaded in the rear, they are prone to roll over and result in devastating crashes.
But the good news is: there is a fix. Adding dual wheels (an additional wheel on either side) to the rear of these vans has been shown in testing to increase the vans' stability and improve handling in turns and in emergencies. A retrofit by the manufacturers of the 500,000 vehicles on the highway would cost $300-400 per vehicle, or about $135 in mass production for new vehicles. A long-term solution is also essential -- the vans must be redesigned to protect passengers in rollover and side impact crashes, and to comply with school bus and other federal safety standards from which they are now exempt.
Are you the worried owner of a 15-Passenger van?
Click here to read Public Citizen's advice to owners of 15-Passenger vans.
Click here to Read Public Citizen's Report:
Stopping Rollovers: The Dual-Wheel Solution for 15-Passenger Vans
Transportation Reauthorization Bill passed by the Senate addresses problems with 15-Passenger Vans - click here to learn more.
Learn more about "Van Angels" - An organization started by a group of families who lost children in a 15-passenger van crash whose mission is to help organizations that cannot afford to replace or retrofit their 15-passenger vans.