Risk of 15-Passenger Van Rollovers is Focus of NHTSA Warning During Tire Safety Week

As part of National Tire Safety Week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging all owners and users of 15 passenger vans to always follow proper tire maintenance and conduct routine safety checks, due to the risk of deadly rollover crashes. 

A tire maintenance warning was issued by the NHTSA on May 28, in an effort to raise awareness of the risk of 15 passenger van rollovers if the tires are worn out or older.

As the summer driving season approaches there will be many more passenger vans in transit and the agency is encouraging better safety checks to help reduce the number of roller crashes recorded annually.

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The 15-passenger vans are more frequently used in the summer months due to use by summer camps, youth groups, religious organizations, and sports teams. With the majority of the occupants of these vehicles usually being young children or the elderly, the potential injuries can be more severe for those individuals.

A decade-long analysis of 15-passenger van accidents, which have been linked to at least 653 deaths, is prompting the NHTSA to warn drivers that these vans are more susceptible to roll over causing potentially fatal accidents. On average, the NHTSA has recorded 65 fatalities per year over the last 10 years from 15-passenger van crashes. Nearly 60% of those fatalities were the result of the vans tipping over or rolling during the crash.

Much of the reason for passenger van accidents can be contributed to the design and dimensions, which make them more prone to tipping over.

Passenger vans are typically longer and taller than most lightweight vehicles, which inherently creates a rollover hazard if not driven responsibly or with up to date tire maintenance. The NHTSA has reported that the lack of vehicle tire maintenance has played a critical part in passenger van rollover accidents.

Making sure passenger vans are equipped with tires that are the correct size and load rating is essential for passenger van safety, according to the NHTSA. It is important for owners and drivers of these particular vans understand that tires degrade over time and even though the van may not be driven daily the tires could still be prone to rotting or normal degradation, the NHTSA warns.

The NHTSA recommends that drivers follow certain safety checks before traveling. Those steps include checking the tires for proper tread amounts, inflation levels, and to see if there is any wearing or damage in any spots. Owners should also seek guidance on when to replace tires to determine the aging the safety of the tires. Owners should also have the suspension and steering components inspected annually to make sure rust spots have not set in and weakened the vehicles components.

The NHTSA is also recommending owners to have licensed and experienced drivers handling these vehicles. Many drivers are not used to driving larger vehicles with more risks associated with turns and inclement weather handling of the van. As normal, the NHTSA advises that passengers should be buckled in at all times when traveling in the passenger vans.

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