Caution: 15-passenger vans remain uniquely dangerous

Several years ago, numerous media outlets reported on the unique hazards faced by travelers who utilize 15-passenger vans. While these media reports and numerous fatal accidents involving these vehicles dissuaded many from purchasing or renting these vans, these vehicles remain popular today. Understandably, many schools, houses of worship and nonprofit organizations find them to be particularly appealing due to their size. Unfortunately, even as these vehicles remain appealing, they also remain uniquely hazardous.

Just as every other light vehicle on the road is tested for safety and held to certain stringent safety standards, 15-passenger vans are similarly tested and regulated. But simply because these vehicles are tested and regulated does not mean that they are particularly safe. Numerous unique features of these vans make them especially dangerous.

For instance, these vans are large and have significant blind spots. Most of the time, individuals must obtain special licenses to operate massive vehicles containing significant blind spots. However, 15-passenger vans can generally be operated by any regularly licensed driver. When individuals inexperienced in maneuvering large vans with significant blind spots encounter unexpected road or traffic conditions, accidents can easily result.

Similarly, these vehicles can easily be overloaded with luggage and significant passenger weight. This potential for overload can make the vans more difficult to maneuver safely under certain conditions. Therefore, it is important that you think twice before operating or traveling in these vans. Their appealing size and unique construction also makes them difficult to handle safely. As a former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently emphasized, they are so dangerous that some insurance companies ultimately refuse to insure them.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Florida Van Crash Revives Concern About Safety of Vehicles,” Matt Sedensky and Jennifer Kay, April 7, 2015

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