Fifteen-passenger vans move workers from one location to the next in one vehicle, cutting transportation costs. But it’s important to know that these vehicles present serious hazards.

“Research shows that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10,” states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), adding that “15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants had a rollover rate in single-vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rate of those that had fewer than five occupants.”

The dangers of 15-passenger vans have been well documented and acknowledged by both manufacturers and government agencies, with NHTSA admitting that in the hands of inexperienced drivers, the vehicles can be challenging to maneuver and need more space than other passenger cars. Given their high center of gravity and propensity to roll, drivers of 15-passenger vans must be especially cautious and avoid quick maneuvers. Sometimes, the accidents we see do not even include another vehicle; merely a sudden stop or a quick turn can cause these vans to roll over or crash.

Some of the dangers of 15-passenger vans include:

Changes in weight can cause critical shifts in tire pressure and lead to blowouts.
Optimal tire pressure is different for front and back tires, which causes frequent over or under inflation.
Many vehicles released before 2007 are not equipped with critical anti-rollover features.
15-passenger vehicles do not require any special license to operate, meaning may are taken onto the road by inexperienced drivers.

15-Passenger Van Accident Statistics: According to a recent NHTSA study, 509 occupants of 15-passenger vans were killed in crashes between 2007 and 2016.
41% of fatalities involving these vehicles had occupants being ejected.
11% of fatalities involving these vehicles were attributed to tire failure.
70% of occupants who died were not restrained or wearing a seatbelt during the accident.
31% of fatal rollover accidents involving 15-passenger vans occur during the summer.

Vans carrying more than 10 occupants have a higher risk of an accident. The NHTSA recommends drivers of 15-passenger vans have commercial licenses, but even experienced operators may not be enough to prevent an accident when danger is inherent in the design. Automakers must do their part to make these vans safe to drive.

Passenger vehicles should be designed so they are safe in expected use cases. Many organizations including schools, churches, rail road workers, and other groups rely on these vehicles for cost-effective group transportation. Designers and auto makers have negligently failed to add safety and stability features to make these vehicles safe when passengers are onboard. If you’ve suffered injuries in a 15-passenger van accident, give us a call for a free consultation.