In recent years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has warned American motorists about inherent dangers associated with 15 passenger vans, but public opinion has not shifted to reflect these concerns. In fact, the settings in which 15 passenger vans are used lead riders to accept that mode of transportation with little complaint as these vehicles are the chosen mode of transit for many school sports teams, church groups, company outings and other group travel.
Fifteen passenger vans have appeal to small groups because they can enable a large number of people to travel together without the need for using a larger, more expensive vehicle. Plus a driver with a standard license can operate a 15 passenger van and therefore driving duties can be shared among a number of adults including parents and chaperones, eliminating the need to hire a driver or contract with a carrier company.
Yet data consistently shows that these vehicles pose a significant risk of rollovers especially when they are fully loaded. In fact, with 10 or more passengers, the risk of a rollover in a 15 passenger van is more than three times as great as it is when five or fewer passengers are present.
The design of these vehicles means that the addition of passengers and other cargo serves to shift the center of gravity higher and towards the back of the van, a position that leads to instability throughout the van and that can decrease a driver’s ability to handle the vehicle in the event that an emergency maneuver is necessary. This means that if a hazard arises in the road, traffic conditions change, or if weather becomes an issue, a driver is more likely to lose control of the van when it is fully loaded. And if a driver loses control of the van, the van is more likely to roll over, making injuries or even death among those inside likely.
Experts caution the use of 15 passenger vans and suggest that when they are utilized, the number of passengers inside be limited to provide for the safest ride possible. If you will be using a van or if your child participates in a group that benefits from 15 passenger vans, see if alternate transportation is available. If not, make sure the van is in proper working condition and that the weight is distributed within the vehicle with safety in mind. Also make sure that the driver follows all applicable road rules and does not speed as any driving violation will make an accident more likely.
If you were involved in a 15 passenger van accident or if someone you love was injured or killed in a crash, make sure you understand your legal rights and how they apply to claims in the greater Chicago area. If you are looking for answers, know that the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call and to provide you with help.
We offer a case consultation without cost or obligation to those victims who call us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and we keep everything discussed during the consultation confidential. Further, if we represent you in your case, we will fight for the best possible outcome for you and we will never charge you a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we believe in fighting for victims’ rights and if you were hurt, we want to fight for you as well.
Prior Blog Entry:
Poor, Less Educated Drivers at Greater Risk of Death in Car Accidents, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published October 4, 2015.