The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and the Safe Communities Coalition of the Red River Valley are issuing a call to action with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that urges owners, drivers, and riders of 15 passenger vans to check tires frequently to prevent crashes.
Recently there have been two crashes involving 15 passenger vans in New York and Georgia. Six were killed in the New York crash and four were killed in the Georgia crash. In both instances, the passengers were from local church groups who were riding in older model vehicles when rear tires blew out causing the vans to roll multiple times.Â
The Safe Communities Coalition wants to educate owners, drivers, and riders associated with 15 passenger vans to take the following safety measures:Â
- Wear seat belts at all times. An unrestrained occupant of a 15 passenger van is approximately three times more likely to be killed in a single vehicle crash.
- Never exceed vehicle occupancy recommendations. Passengers should sit in seats that are in front of the rear axle when it is not full.
- Inspect tires and check tire pressure before each use.Â Follow the manufacturer-recommended tire size and pressure to avoid a loss of vehicle control and possible rollover.
- Avoid using old spares, as all tires (even unused tires) weaken with age.
- Ensure that 15 passenger vans are driven by trained, experienced drivers who operate these vehicles on a regular basis.
- Never exceed the posted speed limit, and always travel at a speed that is safe for the driving conditions. The 15 passenger van does not respond well to abrupt steering maneuvers and requires additional braking time.
- Place cargo forward of the rear axle, but not on the roof. The van should not be used for towing purposes.Â
These 15 passenger vans are widely used by community organizations to take members on short trips and outings. The Safe Communities Coalition wants to keep area community members safe on the roads â€“ check your tires and buckle up, every trip, every time.