The U.S. Department of Transportation is urging owners of 15 passenger vans to exercise extra care in the maintenance and driving of their vehicles. Organizations like student groups, tour groups, and companies that provide transportation to commuters and the elderly may use 15 passenger vans to carry groups of people from one place to another. 15 passenger vans may not be used by schools or day care providers because of their inherent dangers.
Such organizations should take the Department of Transportation’s recommendations in earnest, as van rollovers are more common than car rollovers and result in more fatalities. The National Center for Statistics and Analysis found that in 2002 38% of 15 passenger vans crashes involved a rollover.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a brochure on van safety, which reminds van operators to regularly check large passenger vans for common trouble areas. One main cause of van crashes is improper maintenance of tires. Inexperienced drivers may not be aware of the difference between standard tires and tires made for vans, which could lead to improper inflation and dangerous driving conditions. Tires on a typical sedan require about 30psi of air pressure on all four tires. However, vans require about 50 psi on the front wheels and 80 psi on the back wheels. Large van tires wear out more quickly than tires on other types of passenger vehicles because they are carrying a heavier load.