NHTSA issues eighth consumer advisory about dangers of 15 passenger vans

Last month a 15-passenger van was involved in a rollover crash when the left rear tire failed, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. There were 17-passengers in the van and the crash left many injured and one dead.

Two weeks after the accident the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued its eighth warning about the proper use of a 15-passenger van. Their number one tip is to never overload a 15-passenger van because they “are particularly sensitive to loading.”

A study done in 2001 by NHTSA shows that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that is similar to other light trucks and vans when carrying a few passenger and that risk increases when it is loaded with more than five people. The study also showed that loading a 15-passenger van causes the center of gravity to shift rearward and upward increasing the likelihood of rollover. This also increases the chance of losing control in a panicked situation.

These advisories have been helpful. Since 2001 fatalities due to 15-passenger van accidents have decreased 35 percent but the decline has not been steady. This decline can also be attributed to Dodge’s decision to get out of the 15-passenger van business and Ford and General Motors’ decisions to make Electronic Stability Control standard in later model 15-passenger vans.

As on July 2007 there are about 564,000 15-passenger vans registered in the US. This numfer has surely grown over the past few years.  More of these vehicles were made after 2004 making them safer to drive.

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