PCI: Driver Training, Seatbelt Usage Critical in the Use of 15-Passenger Vans

June 3, 2005

Driver training, seatbelt usage and vehicle maintenance are keys to reducing rollovers and subsequent injuries associated with 15-passenger vans according to a paper authored by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

“The dangers related to the use of 15-passenger vans can be reduced if users employ basic safety measures gained through driver training and more regular use of the vehicles,” said David Golden, author of the paper and director of commercial lines for PCI.

Considered the perfect size vehicles for mid-size groups, 15-passenger vans are often used by sports teams, church groups and local service groups as transportation to a variety of events. However, the vans have made headlines in recent years as a result of a number of multiple-fatality, single-vehicle rollover accidents.

Over the past few years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have cited improperly inflated tires, lack of seatbelt usage, poor handling and lack of training as reasons for the high-injury and fatality rate associated with 15-passenger van crashes.

“What we have found is that driver training and vehicle maintenance, particularly regarding the proper inflation pressures of tires, are critical in reducing rollovers, while seatbelt usage is a key factor in minimizing rollover accident injuries and fatalities,” said Golden.

Last week, NHTSA renewed its rollover advisory for users of 15-passenger vans in expectation of higher usage during the summer months. This is the third time in four years that NHTSA has issued this warning.

“NTHSA supports our findings, noting that public education efforts have resulted in 35 percent fewer fatalities in 15-passenger van rollover accidents since 2001,” added Golden. “If we can continue to increase driver awareness of the special needs associated with the vans – seatbelt usage, speed and vehicle maintenance, the risks and injuries related to 15-passenger vans can be dramatically reduced.”

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