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The problem with 15-passenger vans

Think twice before booking a large van for that upcoming trip

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For transporting medium-size groups of people from place to place, the 15-passenger van is an attractive idea. They're the right size and they can be adapted many different uses -- church buses, parking lot shuttles, airport shuttles, executive shuttles, family bus, sports team buses, hotel shuttles, prisoner transports, school activity buses, disability and wheelchair buses, and buses in corporate van pools.

The only problem with this class of vehicles is that they are susceptible to rolling over. More than 10,000 people are killed in vehicle rollover accidents every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Too often, the most vulnerable people are seriously injured in crashes and rollovers - kids teams, church groups and handicapped people.

What makes large vans so dangerous?

The NHTSA cites two ways in which 15-passenger vans pose special dangers.

  • First, these vans have a documented propensity for rolling over under certain highway conditions.
  • Second, when these rollovers and crashes occur, people die. One study showed that crashes result in a 70 percent fatality rate. And since as many as 15 people may be crowded onto the vehicle, the death toll can be unacceptable.
  • Some of the passenger van models with the worst safety records include Ford Transit Connect, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Starcraft Allstar and Xpress, Chevrolet Express 3500, GMC Savana 3500, and the Nissan NV200.

Most of these vans were not originally designed for people, but for cargo. They are closer in design to trucks than cars in terms of chassis, suspension, tires and engines than cars. They require expert driving skills, being taller, longer, heavier, and with more engine power than a car or minivan.

When you factor in the weight of 15 people and their gear, it is easy to understand why so many people are hurt or killed. Yet drivers are often ordinary teachers, church leaders, and coaches, with ordinary driving skills.

Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, has placed a special emphasis on recovering damages for persons injured or killed in 15-passenger vans and other vulnerable van and SUV designs. GB&W attorney Christine Spagnoli has been a pioneer in identifying the unique dangers of this and similar classes of vehicles.

If you or a family member has been hurt or killed in a 15-passenger van, talk to us. Our job is obtaining rightful compensation for injuries occurring in dangerous vehicles.

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