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Exercise caution with 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends a number of steps that help to keep occupants safe in 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans. These large vans with up to five rows of seats have special handling issues and, particularly when fully loaded with passengers, can be less stable than most other types of passenger vehicles. Owners and drivers of these vans can follow some simple safety tips to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities.
Tire maintenance is crucial
To help prevent rollover crashes with 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans, owners and drivers need to make sure the vehicles have:
- Appropriately sized tires
- Properly inflated tires
Tires degrade over time, and for this reason, NHTSA recommends that spare tires not be used as replacements for worn tires. Many tire manufacturers recommend that tires older than 10 years not be used at all.
These vehicles should be checked by a qualified service center to make sure that they have the appropriate type of tires and that the tires and suspension system of the vehicle are in safe condition.
Buckle up – every person – every time
Equally important for the safety of all travelers in 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans is the consistent use of seat belts and child safety seats.
Additional safety tips for 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans
- Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained.
- Drivers should be fully experienced in operating a 9, 12 and 15-passenger van and be properly licensed, with a regular, Class D operator's license. Commercial operation of vans that seat 9 or more people may be required to comply with additional federal DOT safety regulations.
- Drivers need to understand the different handling characteristics of these larger vehicles compared with a regular automobile. Large vans respond to steering and braking differently, especially when driving in windy conditions and when fully loaded.
- 9, 12 and 15–passenger vans are very sensitive to loading and should not be overloaded under any circumstances. Research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but makes the van less stable in any handling maneuvers.
- Before every trip, drivers of 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans should check tires for proper inflation and to make sure that there are no signs of wear. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner's manual.
Again, always buckle up. Every person, every trip, every time.
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Last modified: December 13, 2012
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