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When it comes to rollover accidents, the 15-passenger van is the most dangerous vehicle on the road.New research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that rollover accidents with 15-passenger vans occur thirty-one percent more frequently during the summer months of June through August.Eighty-one percent of fatalities occur in single vehicle rollover accidents.

The risks increase when the vans carry ten or more people.The passenger weight changes the vehicle’s center of gravity, causing it to be in the rear of the vehicle.As a result, the van handles differently than other passenger vehicles during an emergency and is more prone to rollover crashes.

The problem with the van is the weight.Most van manufacturers, such as Ford and Dodge, use a car wheelbase and extend the back end.Also, the vans are top heavy which causes a shift in its center of gravity.The vans usually have a back seat with four passengers behind the rear axle.With a heavy back end, in an accident the back end swings out.When the rear swings out and the tires remain their grip on the road, the weight pulls the vehicle over.

In studies of these crashes, most rollover events occur when the driver loses control of the vehicle and runs off the road.Three major situations occur that create a rollover event:

·The van goes off onto the shoulder of a rural road

·The driver is fatigued or driving too fast for conditions causing the van to slide sideways.

·The driver overcorrects the steering in a panic situation causing the van to slide sideways.

Over the past decade, eighty percent of people killed in these types of vans were unbelted.Seat belt use is critical because seventy-five percent of deaths occur when occupants are thrown from the vehicle during a rollover crash.

The failure to properly inflate the tire pressure also causes van accidents.Tire pressure and tread should be checked every week on these vehicles.Also, drivers may need special training in steering onto the roadway when the tires drop onto the surface.Drivers must also be well rested and drive within the speed limit.Rollover crashes increase significantly when speed limits are in excess of fifty miles per hour or on curved roads.

Also when the van is not full, passengers should seat in seats in front of the rear axle.The van should never carry more than fifteen passengers. The rollover risk increases significantly as the passenger number increases from five to ten.Also the van should not be top-loaded with luggage or equipment.

Fifteen-passenger vans represent less than one percent of the vehicle passenger fleet in the United States. However, these types of vans are frequently used to transport school sports teams, van pools, religious groups, summer day campers, day care center children, and hotel guests. Many community-based organizations, such as YMCAs, also use these vans for youth group transportation.

Since 2001, the NHTSA has issued four different warnings on these types of vans.The federal government has banned them for school-related transportation for high school students or younger.However, they still appear at day care centers, YMCAs, summer camps and scout troops.

If you can, avoid them and do not allow your children to be transported in these death traps.If you or someone you love has been injured in a 15-passenger van, then contact Robert N. Katz for a free, private consultation.

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