15 Passenger Van Rollover Accident Lawsuit
This site deals with passenger-van rollover safety & roof crush failures, recall news updates, dual wheel remedy / fix & legal action involving the Ford Econoline E350 Van, Ford Club Wagon Van ,Chevrolet Express 3500 Van, GMC Savana G3500 Van, GMC Rally / Vandura G3500 Van and Dodge Ram Van/Wagon B3500 Passenger Vans. In a rollover accident, 9, 12 and 15 passenger vans can all have major roof pillar collapse causing the roof to crush into the passengers also causing the roof pillars to fold and collapse. This side roof pillar collapse and movement can cause door latches to open and separate from the door lock jambs, subjecting the occupants to ejection and contact with the road surface during a rollover.
Loaded 15 Passenger Vans – Rollover Risk Increased
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a cautionary warning to users of 15 passenger vans because of an increased rollover risk under certain conditions. These 15-passenger vans are used by churches, daycare and eldercare centers, schools, universities, and airport shuttle services — yet they are extremely hazardous vehicles. Originally manufactured as cargo vans, automakers never redesigned these Fifteen (15) passenger vans to safely transport people. The results of the recent safety administration analysis revealed that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that’s similar to other light trucks and vans when carrying a few passengers. However, the risk of rollover increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10 passengers. The NHTSA study noted that even when carrying between one and four passengers, the 15-passenger vans were 17 percent more likely to be involved in a rollover accident than smaller vans or minivans.
The 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that’s nearly three times the rate of those that were lightly loaded. The analysis revealed that loading the 15-passenger van causes the center of gravity to shift rearward and upward, increasing the likelihood of rollover. The shift in the center of gravity also will increase the potential for loss of control in panic maneuvers. The NHTSA urged institutions using 15-passenger vans to require seat-belt use at all times since buckling up dramatically increases the chances of survival during a rollover crash. The federal agency noted that 80 percent of victims who died in 15-passenger van rollover accidents last year were not wearing seat belts. NHTSA officials said there are about 1.4 million 15-passenger vans registered in the United States. The agency identified a number of 15-passenger models including Ford Econoline E350, Chevrolet Express 3500, GMC Savana G3500, GMC Rally / Vandura G3500 and Dodge Ram Van/Wagon B3500. While new federal laws prohibit the sale and use of 15-passenger vans for the school-related transport of high school age and younger students, no such prohibition exists for vehicles to transport or college students or other passengers with churches, carpools or commercial ventures.
15 Passenger Van Rollover Comparison
|The risk of rollover in 15-passenger vans increases dramatically with the number of passengers on board, according to an analysis of single-vehicle crash data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.|
|Less than 5||1,815||224||12.3%|
|5 to 9||77||16||20.8%|
|10 to 15||55||16||29.1%|
|More than 15||10||7||70.0%|
|SOURCE: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration|
The consumer advisory was prompted by a number of accidents involving college sports teams. Four members of the track team of Prairie View A&M University in Texas were killed and seven injured when their van rolled over on the way to a meet last year. Other serious 15 passenger van rollovers involved the Wisconsin-Oshkosh swim team, the DePaul women’s track team and the Kenyon College swim team. Also a 15 passenger 2000 Dodge van carrying 10 students from Long Island’s Chaminade High School veered off an Arizona highway near the Grand Canyon and overturned, killing one student and the teacher who was driving the van.
The manufacturers of these 15 passenger vans have known for many years of the rollover propensity of the vans and have failed to properly test this van and remedy the problem. Nor have they properly warned the consumer of this potentially deadly problem. 15-passenger vans are used by churches, daycare and eldercare centers, schools, universities, and airport shuttle services — yet they are extremely hazardous vehicles. Originally manufactured as cargo vans, automakers never redesigned these vehicles to safely transport people. When five or more passengers are riding in these vans, the likelihood of rollover increases dramatically. Because the rear of these vans extend 4 to 51/2 feet beyond the rear wheels, any loading of five or more people or luggage/equipment causes instability during emergency maneuvers such as sudden turns to avoid a pedestrian or vehicle. This causes the vans to fishtail, and because they are top heavy and overloaded in the rear, they are prone to roll over and result in devastating crashes.
According to some engineers, there is a possible fix to the rollover problem. Adding dual wheels (an additional wheel on either side) to the rear of these vans has been shown in testing to increase the vans’ stability and improve handling in turns and in emergencies stops and emergency avoidance maneuvers. A retrofit by the manufacturers of the 500,000 vehicles on the highway would cost $ 400-800 per vehicle.
Unfortunately, General Motors Corporation and Ford Motor Company refuse to retrofit 15-passenger vans with dual rear wheels. Ford Motor Company maintains that, despite the mounting evidence suggesting otherwise, the E Series van is “a very safe vehicle.” The company “recommends[s] that drivers of 15-passenger Econoline vans avoid sharp turns, excessive speeds and abrupt maneuvers.” Many rollovers, however, are precipitated by unavoidable emergency maneuvers and tire failures, as Ford perhaps knew. Also, attached is an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times that discusses a recent ruling by a federal judge that concluded Ford deliberately hid evidence related to the company’s testing of its 15-passenger vans.
A long-term solution is also essential — the vans must be redesigned to protect passengers in rollover and side impact crashes, and to comply with school bus and other federal safety standards from which they are now exempt.
Continued Use of 15 Passenger Vans:
The University of Florida has issued their own 15 Passenger Van User Policy. Should you temporarily need to continue to use these dangerous vehicles, the following recommendations are based on those made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the GuideOne Insurance for lowering the risk of rollover in 15 passenger vans.
- Screen all drivers: it is best to require that drivers obtain a commercial driver’s license;
- Remove the rear seat of the vans to reduce loading behind the vehicle’s rear axle;
- Limit the capacity to 9 persons including the driver, which dramatically reduces the risk of rollover;
- Load forward seats first at all times;
- Communicate with passengers, parents and other parties about the high risks;
- Do NOT tow anything behind the vehicle or load the roof;
- Do NOT use the back cargo area. Prohibit it from being loaded and used as a storage area.
- Conduct a full safety inspection of the vehicle, including all tires, pre- and post-trip (tire blowouts are particularly dangerous and often lead to rollovers);
- Include safety items on board, such as a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and cellular phone (which should not be used during driving);
- Require ALL passengers and the driver to wear proper safety restraints any time the vehicle is in motion.
- Replace all affected 15 passenger vans that have not been updated or retrofitted to make safe. Check with your local van dealer to get more information of what is available.
15 Passenger Van Rollover & Roof Collapse Lawsuits
If you or a member of your family has been involved in a 15 Passenger van rollover accident or other truck or SUV rollover with severe roof crush, roof pillar collapse failure or any other serious accident or failure and you have questions about whether the vehicle or roof design may caused or contributed to the accident or injuries, then call us now. Mr. Willis is a Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney with over 20 years of product liability and rollover litigation experience. Call the Willis Law Firm at 1-800-883-9858 for a Free & Confidential Consultation or Click Here
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