15 passenger van safety by 4YqikvN


									  A Campus Safety Newsletter for Oklahoma’s Higher Education Institutions
                                   CAMPUS EDITION

                       15-Passenger Van Safety
                           The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued
                           warnings about the safety of certain types of vans used by colleges,
                           universities, church groups and others to transport groups of people.
                           In April of 2001 and again in April of 2002, the National Highway
                           Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one of the divisions of DOT,
issued warnings about these vehicles. They have also provided guidance about how to make
travel safer using this type of vehicle, the 15-passenger van, which typically has seating for 14
persons and a driver.

NHTSA researchers explored the likelihood that these vehicles may experience a rollover.
They found that when 15-passenger vans were loaded with over 15 persons, the risk of rolling
over is almost 6 times greater than if only 5 occupants are present. The rollover rate for
occupants with 10 or more occupants is almost 3 times more likely than if the vehicle has less
than 10 occupants.

Rollovers may be caused in part due to overloading which shifts the balance (center of gravity)
and also puts more pressure on the rear tires, increasing the possibility of poor steering and
tire blowouts. Loading luggage on top of these vans can also increase the potential for
rollovers. All of these factors make the vehicle much more difficult to control in an emergency.
Other likely causes of rollovers are inexperienced drivers, excessive speed for conditions, and
driver fatigue. Over 90 percent of rollovers occur when a driver loses control of a vehicle and
goes off the roadway.

NHTSA identified and researched seven vehicles being sold as 15-passenger vans:

                                                             Chevrolet Express 3500
                                                             GMC Savanna G3500
                                                             Dodge Ram Van/Wagon B3500
                                                             Dodge Ram Wagon B350
                                                             Ford Econoline E350
                                                             Ford Club Wagon E350
                                                             GMC Rally/Vandura G3500

Federal law prohibits the sale of new vans for transporting high school or younger public
students unless the van meets stringent school bus standards. However, no such prohibition
exists for those vehicles used by colleges, churches, carpools, or commercial businesses.
Because 15-passenger vans are significantly wider and longer than cars, they:

         Require more space to maneuver,
         Require more reliance on the side view mirrors for changing lanes,
         Do not respond well to abrupt steering maneuvers, and
         Require additional braking time.

First Quarter 2003                                                                        Page 1
  A Campus Safety Newsletter for Oklahoma’s Higher Education Institutions
                                      CAMPUS EDITION

Many of the schools in the northeastern United States have set stringent policies regarding the
use of these vans after a rash of serious accidents that injured and killed several student
athletes. Many Oklahoma colleges and universities have also implemented policies. All
organizations should have a written policy about the safe use of 15-passenger vans, whether
owned or rented, and authorized drivers should be given the authority to enforce the
established policy. Examples of policy statements and procedures that some schools have
implemented include the following:

         All occupants must wear seat belts at all times. Eighty percent of those who died
         in 15-passenger rollovers did not have on their seat belts. In the last 10 years, 92%
         of all belted occupants survived rollovers in 15-passenger vans.
         Some schools have decided to limit the use of vans to trips of 200 miles or less.
         Another policy states that drivers shall rotate every three hours or take at least a 10
         minute break.
         Driving is prohibited from midnight to 6 a.m.
         Drivers will be 21 year of age or greater.
         Drivers are not allowed to use cell phones while operating the vehicle.
         All traffic pr parking citations, tickets or fines are the responsibility of the driver.
         Specific training for van drivers is required by many policies. If a driver has a
         Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) some schools will waive special training
         Some schools have elected to check driving records annually.


         Each van will have a maximum payload weight, which may be less than you think.
         This limit is different for each vehicle, depending on the make and model. Many
         schools and organizations have now limited the passenger occupancy to 11 or fewer
         persons (and their luggage) to keep weight below this maximum payload weight.
         Some schools have even removed the rear seat of the vehicle. Your fleet services
         department can provide you with the maximum payload weight. It may also be found
         in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the door panel sticker.
         Trailers should never be used to haul additional equipment or baggage.
         Never load luggage on top.
         Warning labels may be installed or flyers inserted that are visible to the driver and
         Make sure the tires are properly inflated and the tread is not worn. Improper inflation
         can lead to tire failures. Check tire pressure and tread wear before the trip.
         When the van is not full, passengers should sit forward of the rear axle.

First Quarter 2003                                                                                  Page 2
 A Campus Safety Newsletter for Oklahoma’s Higher Education Institutions
                                    CAMPUS EDITION


        Vehicle operators should be trained and experienced drivers. Consider using one or
        two experienced drivers to rotate until others are trained. Some schools and
        organizations have policies stating that only pre-designated, approved drivers are
        allowed to operate the vehicle.
        If am inexperienced driver is allowed to operate the vehicle to gain experience, an
        experienced driver should sit in the front passenger seat to help monitor driving
        Drivers must be well rested. No driver should operate a vehicle for more than 10
        hours in a 24-hour period.
        Rest breaks should be taken regularly. Some schools mandate a break of 30 minutes
        every four hours. Others require short breaks every two hours.
        Trips requiring more than 10 hours should include an overnight stay.
        Speed should be limited to 60 miles per hour or less, depending on weather and road
        Drivers must be especially cautions on curved rural roads and maintain a safe speed
        to keep from running off the road
        In the van’s wheels drop off the roadway, gradually reduce speed and steer back onto
        the roadway when it is safe to do so
        Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that may affect your driving

Latest DOT Press Release:

Informational Flyer:

Hang Tags for 15-Passenger Vans:

Rollover Research Paper:

                     A publication of the Regents’ Training Center
                     655 Research Parkway, Suite 200
                     Oklahoma City, OK 73104
                     Pamela A. Boatright, Editor
                     Phone: 405/225-9458
                     E-Mail: pboatright@osrhe.edu

First Quarter 2003                                                                      Page 3

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