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NHTSA Restates Rollover
Warning For Users of 15-Passenger Vans
The National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced new research that
reinforces its existing concerns about 15-passenger vans. As a
result, NHTSA reissued its consumer advisory for users of 15-passenger
vans for the third time in the past four years.
In a new research report
related to improper tire maintenance on 15-passenger vans, the
NHTSA study found that 74 percent of all 15-passenger vans had
significantly mis-inflated tires. By contrast, 39 percent of
passenger cars were found with significant inflation problems.
NHTSA research has consistently shown that improperly inflated
tires can change handling characteristics, increasing the
prospect of a rollover crash in 15-passenger vans.
The vans are convenient,
but drivers and passengers have to use extra caution. The risks
associated with 15-passenger vans can be minimized if users take
some basic safety precautions," said Jeffrey Runge, M.D,
NHTSA administrator. Routinely checking the condition of
the tires, including the tire pressure, should be at the top of
To reduce the risks associated
with 15-passenger vans, NHTSAs safety advisory recommends
that drivers insist all occupants wear safety belts at all times;
drivers of 15-passenger are trained and experienced; tires are
checked at least once a week, using the manufacturers
recommended pressure levels; and no loads are placed on the roof
of the vehicle.
Prior NHTSA research has shown
that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases
dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than
five to more than ten. In fact, 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 were lightly
loaded (with fewer than five occupants).
Nearly 80 percent of those who died in 15-passenger van rollovers
nationwide between 1990 and 2003 were not buckled up. Wearing
safety belts dramatically increases the chances of survival
during a rollover crash. In fatal, single-vehicle rollovers
involving 15-passenger vans over the past decade, 91 percent of
belted occupants survived.
NHTSA is reissuing this advisory to specifically alert summertime
users of 15-passenger vans. The agency also has prepared a flyer
on 15-passenger van safety that is available on the web at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/studies/15PassVans/Index.htm.
The public is responding to safety information about 15-passenger
vans. Fatalities from 15-passenger van rollover van crashes have
declined 35 percent since advisories began in 2001.
While Federal law prohibits the sale of 15-passenger vans for the
school-related transport of high school age and younger students,
no such prohibition exists for vehicles to transport college
students or other passengers. An interpretation of this Federal
law can be found at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/interps/files/17730.drn.htm.