A tire blowout followed by a rollover involving a 15-passenger van in Florida claimed the lives of three people while injuring 12 others last month. A number of passengers were thrown from the vehicle during the single-vehicle accident.
According to news reports, there were 16 people riding the 15-passsenger van. However, even when used as intended—loaded with no more than 15 people, this type of vehicle is still linked to a greater risk of rollover, and there are questions about the inherent safety risks involved. The Gilbert Law Group is an auto products liability law firm, and we believe that this van is dangerous even when used properly.
The US Department of Transportation reports that even when the van isn’t carrying 15 people its rollover risk is at least three times higher than other vehicles. Meantime, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in 2004 that a 15-passsenger van’s rollover risk jumps up to 400% when it is fully loaded. Considering that these vans’ owners will typically use them transport up to that many people—church groups, airport shuttles, athletic groups, clubs—this news is very disturbing.
Why are 15-passenger vans unsafe? When there are enough cargo and passengers, this can send the vehicle’s gravity center upward and toward the back of the van, which may make the auto unstable. This can make it harder for drivers to stay in control of the 15-passenger van should the tire blow out or there is another emergency situation.
15-passenger vans are not as easy to drive as are regular sized-vehicles. There may be special licensing requirements. Also, it is important that the van driver is experienced and can comfortably operate the vehicle before transporting passengers. It doesn’t help that there are passengers that develop a false sense of safety when riding a 15-passenger van, which prompts them to not put on a seat belt. Also, NHTSA says that 30% of 15-passenger vans have at least one tire on them that is significantly underinflated—which inevitably increases the tire blowout and rollover risks.
If you or someone you love was injured in a 15-passenger van accident, you should explore your legal options. In addition to the van manufacturer, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim from the owner of the van, the party that leased the van, or the van driver.
15-Passenger Van Facts from 2003 to 2007 (NHTSA):
• 15-passenger van fatalities went up 20% in 2007.
• 1/4th of the deaths during this time period were drivers.
• There were 45 15-passenger van deaths in 2007
• 80% of those killed in 15-passenger van accidents were not properly restrained.
At The Gilbert Law Group, our 15-passenger van lawyers are here to help you explore your legal options. We represent clients throughout the US and we have the resources, manpower, and experience to go after automakers whose auto defects caused a deadly traffic crash. We also can pursue recovery from other liable parties.