Passenger Van Safety – Frequently Asked Questions and Recommendations
Are you considering purchasing a passenger van? These incredibly convenient vehicles offer a spacious interior for several passengers to commute at one time, making them an excellent choice for private or public transportation. However, passenger vans come with a broader range of risks than most vehicles because of their size and design. Here’s what you need to know about passenger van safety and how to keep your van operating as safely as possible for your passengers:
What dangers exist in passenger vans?
Driving any vehicle carries a safety risk, but passenger vans aren’t built the same as the average car, pickup truck, or SUV. To make room for 9, 12, or 15 passengers, these vans are long and tall, allowing passengers to enter and exit them comfortably. Because they’re top-heavy and carry multiple passengers at a time, they carry greater risks than your average vehicle, like rollovers and long brake times. Passenger vans also have less visibility than other vehicles.
Why is tire pressure important?
Keeping track of tire pressure is crucial for any vehicle’s safety, but it’s especially important with a passenger van, which holds much more weight than the average vehicle. The tire pressure on your passenger van should always fall within the recommended range for your specific van, which you can find in the owner’s manual. Low pressure can result in heat buildup and less control navigating turns. You should also check tire treads routinely to ensure that they’re not beyond normal wear and tear.
Why do passenger vans have weight capacities?
All vehicles have maximum weight capacities for passengers and cargo. This number indicates how much weight the vehicle can safely hold while still being able to function properly. Most passenger vehicles never come close to holding their maximum passenger weights, but passenger vans might, which is why it’s extremely important to pay attention to this number when loading your vehicle. Generally, it’s a good idea to keep fewer passengers in your van than it holds to make it likelier that you stay a safe range under the maximum weight limit. The maximum weight capacity for 12 and 15-passenger vans typically ranges between 9,000 and 14,500 pounds, but it’s always best to keep the weight as low as possible.
Are passenger van crashes often fatal?
They can be, but most fatalities from passenger van accidents may be preventable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 80% of recent fatalities from passenger van crashes consisted of passengers who weren’t wearing seatbelts, a dangerous act that’s extremely common in these vehicles. Passenger vans have a higher rollover risk than many other vehicles, making it crucial for drivers and passengers to take extra precautions and wear a seatbelt.
Can anyone drive a passenger van?
Although only a standard driver’s license is required to drive a passenger van, only drivers with plenty of experience operating this type of vehicle should get behind the wheel. Having a commercial driver’s license is ideal because passenger vans have similarities to trucks in how they drive and handle. It’s best practice to learn from an experienced driver how to safely operate a passenger van before attempting to drive one on your own.
Should drivers drive slower with a passenger van?
Generally, yes. Drivers should take extra precaution when driving a passenger van, particularly when road conditions are less than ideal, like in inclement weather. Passenger vans can take significantly longer to brake than other vehicles, particularly in bad weather, so you’ll want to slow your speed down a bit and give yourself plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you to stop. Navigating turns is also a safety concern for these vans because they’re top-heavy, so cornering should be completed with more caution in passenger vans.
What recommendations do you have to keep passengers safe?
The most important step you can take to ensure the safety of your passenger van is to have it inspected by a professional regularly, at least once each year or bi-annually if you drive for several hours each day. The technician can look for anything that might make the operation of your vehicle unsafe, as well as check your tires, fluids, safety belts, and other important components. You can also make it a habit to check that your passengers are wearing their safety belts properly before every trip. Finally, consider holding, at maximum, two or three passengers less than the maximum capacity. For a 15-passenger van, this means holding only 12 or 13 people, including the driver.
By taking extra steps to ensure the safety of your passenger van and its driver and passengers, you can feel more confident in your ownership. Passenger vans, when taken care of and inspected routinely, offer unmatched versatility and convenience. We invite you to check out our new and used passenger van inventory and get in touch with us today with your questions.