Motor Vehicle Safety: Passenger Van Safety

Passenger vans are commonly used by colleges, churches, camps, and other groups during the active summer months. The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (“NHTSA”) recently urged the users of 15-passenger vans to take specific steps to keep drivers and passengers safe.[1]These vehicles have special dangers if not operated properly.

Passenger vans handle very differently from smaller passenger vehicles because they are typically longer, higher, wider, and heavier (especially when loaded).  They require trained drivers who are comfortable and experienced  with the unique driving characteristics of larger vehicles. These differences include  the need for increased reliance on side mirrors for changing lanes and also longer braking distances.  In addition, passenger vans have a higher risk of crashes and rollovers if they are not properly operated and well-maintained.

15-passenger vans are particularly sensitive to improper loading. The NHTSA warns drivers to never overload the vans under any circumstances. Users of passenger vans also need to make sure that tires are appropriately sized, inspected, and properly inflated before every trip. Tire pressure can vary for front and rear tires. Tires can also degrade over time. For that reason, NHTSA recommends that spare tires not be used as long-term replacements for worn tires.

Here are some safety trips for you if you are planning a trip in a 15-passenger van:

  • If you are the owner, make sure that the van is well maintained.
  • Owners should make sure that drivers are properly licensed, well trained, and experienced in operating passenger vans.
  • Drivers should be well rested.  Fatigue can affect driving and response times.
  • Owners should make sure that tires are properly sized and load rated for the vehicle.
  • Vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
  • Drivers should inspect the vehicle before every trip.  Tires should be properly inflated and should not show signs of wear or damage. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner’s manual.
  • Passengers should always make sure to buckle up before every trip.
  • Passengers should be warned not to stand up or move about the vehicle while the van is in motion.

Unfortunately, crashes do sometimes happen. The personal injury attorneys at Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen have experience helping people injured in passenger van crashes and are familiar with the special characteristics of these vehicles. If you or a loved one are injured as a result of a passenger van accident, contact the passenger van injury attorneys at The Allen Law Firm at 866-388-1307 for a free consultation.

About The Author: Jason Konvicka is a partner and trial attorney with Allen & Allen in Richmond, Virginia. During his 20+ year career, he has achieved numerous record-setting jury verdicts and substantial settlements on behalf of his clients. His practice focuses on medical malpractice, bus accidents and product liability personal injury cases. Outside of the courtroom, Jason is involved with the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and currently serves on its Board of Governors as Vice President.

[1] For more information and the full recommendations of the NHTSA, see article at