Whether to drive children to daycare, older people to senior citizen events, athletic teams to sporting events, employees in work carpools, congregants to and from their house of worship, or teenagers to youth programs, 15-passenger vans are in high demand and are prevalent on our Nation’s roads. However, these cumbersome vehicles can pose a safety risk to inexperienced van drivers and other road users.
While popular and useful, older 15-passenger vans do not have the safety technologies required on new vehicles. In the hands of inexperienced drivers, 15-passenger vans can prove challenging to maneuver safely – given their high center of gravity and propensity to rollover as a result of quick maneuvering – which is why NHTSA is committed to providing consumers information to address 15-passenger van safety.
When driving a 15-passenger van, drivers should always take the following precautions:
- Rollover – Nearly 60 percent of fatalities in crashes involving 15-passenger vans were a result of the vehicles rolling over.
- Maintenance – Fatal rollovers of 15-passenger vans are most likely to involve tire failure, since excessively worn or improperly inflated tires can lead to a loss of vehicle control and ultimately a rollover.
- Handling – Driver experience is essential to safely operating these vehicles (a commercial driver’s license is preferred).
- Belt use – An unbuckled 15-passenger van occupant involved in a single-vehicle crash is about three times as likely to be killed as an occupant wearing a seat belt.
- Replacement Tires – Van owners should check the vehicle owner’s manual for correct size and load ratings when replacing tires. Tires that are older than 10 years should be replaced, including the spare.
As part of NHTSA’s mission to help Americans drive, ride, and walk safely, the agency is dedicated to distributing information to organizations that reach van drivers and owners.
Visit NHTSA’s 15-passenger van safety page for more in-depth information.