Understanding the Risks of Passenger Vans (and What to Do About Them)

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There’s no doubt that 12 and 15-passenger vans offer outstanding convenience for getting large families or groups where they need to go. But with their convenience also comes safety risks due to their size and weight.

Driving a passenger van requires even more responsibility and care than driving a regular passenger vehicle because they can be more dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid buying one. Understanding common safety issues involved with passenger vans and what you can do to ensure passenger safety are the first steps toward being a responsible owner.

Common Risks of Passenger Vans

Every vehicle comes with its share of risks as soon as you step into the driver’s seat. However, since passenger vans tend to be taller, longer, and heavier than the average vehicle, they come with a unique set of safety challenges for drivers and passengers.

Passenger Weight

Because passenger vans are designed to hold several passengers at a time, drivers usually concern themselves more with how many passengers ride the van than how much the passengers weigh collectively. However, every passenger van has a GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, that includes the weight of the van itself plus its passengers and cargo.

The closer the weight of the van to its GVWR, the more the van’s components, like its frame and brakes, strain, putting wear and tear on the vehicle and reducing its ability to keep everyone safe. It also makes the van more challenging to maneuver and can even make rollover likelier to occur.

Inclement Weather

It’s usually more difficult to drive on wet roads and in windy conditions in a larger vehicle, like a passenger van, than it is a smaller vehicle. Passenger vans aren’t very quick to respond to braking or turning the steering wheel, which means that undesirable road conditions and weather can make for a dangerous ride.

Rainy weather causes decreased visibility for drivers in many 12 and 15-passenger vans, which usually have significant blind spots because of their large bodies. Windy conditions can increase the risk of rollover in passenger vans, which are already top-heavy.

Navigating Turns

A top-heavy and tall passenger van isn’t going to turn as sharply (and safely) as a small car. Drivers who aren’t used to navigating turns with a passenger van will probably have a significant learning curve once they step behind the wheel. And, the more passengers you have in your van, the higher the chances of it rolling over, especially on sharp turns.

Improper Maintenance and Routine Checks

It’s necessary to perform routine inspections and maintenance on any vehicle to keep it performing its best and safely on the road. Improper maintenance and inspections of a passenger van can equate to serious safety risks because wear and tear happens more quickly on these vehicles than regular passenger vehicles.

How to Enjoy Your Passenger Van Safely

The most important thing to remember about your passenger van is that you’re in control of its passengers and safety! The following tips will help you ensure that your passenger van is ready to hit the road while keeping you and your passengers safe.

Be a Stickler About Passenger Safety

When you keep your passenger van from getting too crowded, you’re doing every passenger – and yourself – a favor. Research shows that 15-passenger vans with fewer than 10 occupants, for example, are significantly less likely to have a rollover incident than those meeting, or close to, their passenger capacity.

Regardless of how many passengers ride in your van, they always need to buckle up. In the event that a rollover occurs, your passengers can lower the risk of ejection from the vehicle by wearing their seatbelt properly.

Keep Up with Maintenance and Inspections

Keeping your van in its best condition by taking it to an experienced mechanic for routine inspections and maintenance, like oil changes, tire rotations, and break checks, is one of the best things you can do for it, yourself, and your passengers.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), one of the top causes of passenger van rollover is underinflated tires, which makes them more likely to go flat while driving and the van less stable. A quick tire pressure check before you start driving is all it takes to prevent problems caused by underinflated tires. You can learn the optimal pressure for your tires by checking the tire itself or looking in your owner’s manual.

Learn to Drive It Safely

Passenger vans simply don’t drive the same as regular passenger vehicles. If you’ve never driven a passenger van or don’t have much experience with one, you might want to consider taking a training course specifically for drivers of these vehicles. Some drivers prefer to go through a commercial driver’s license (CDL) training program to get the same training required for anyone driving a van that holds 16 or more passengers.

Look for a Van with Safety Features

Safety should be your number one priority with your passenger van, even over convenience. Fortunately, newer passenger vans come with plenty of safety features and options for owners. Some features you might want to consider in your van include multiple mirrors to reduce blind spots, rear and surround-view cameras, parking sensors, a tire pressure monitoring system, and stability control.

Not sure what to look for in terms of safety? Our experts can help you find a van that meets your safety standards in our inventory.

It can be rewarding to own a passenger van that’s the right size and has all the features you need to transport your family or group conveniently. Once you understand the potential dangers of driving a passenger van and how to avoid them, you’ll be on the road to safety!

We encourage you to check out our fleet of conversion vans to see what we have in stock that fits your needs. Feel free to contact the Paul Sherry Conversion Vans team to learn more about our offerings, finance options, and getting the features you want in your van.

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