If your church uses a 15 passenger van, it is time to look into safer options. Depending on the number of people you need to seat, you can instead buy a full-sized church bus, or look for a minibus. Shuttle buses work well if you have a smaller congregation, as do 15 passenger buses. Minibuses and 15 passenger buses are made from more durable materials and pose a minimal safety risk than a 15 passenger van, which can be extremely dangerous.
In recent years, several safety concerned have been expressed by consumers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about 15 passenger vans. There have been hundreds of deaths in the last two decades, and these vans have been banned in 29 states for transport of children because of their unsafe driving conditions. Despite the warnings, 41% of all fatalities from 15 passenger van crashes came after the first NHTSA advisory.
There has also been debate over the qualifications needed to drive these vans. Because they are not as large as a bus, they do not require a commercial vehicle license. This has caused concern, as bus drivers, truck drivers, and other large vehicle motorists must undergo specific training to operate their vehicles. The NHTSA has released at least 6 consumer advisories in the last 10 years about 15 passenger van safety, and each notice has urged owners to make sure their driver has adequate experience driving these vehicles.
In addition, use of tempered glass on 15 passenger vans makes them dangerous. Tempered glass is not as durable as laminated glass. Tempered glass’s manufacturing causes it to shatter if hit with force. With laminated glass, a few cracks appear and eventually spread into a larger split. It also contains a layer of plastic in the middle, making it more shatter resistant, and less likely to eject a passenger during an accident. Because these vans were originally designed to carry cargo, tempered glass is a common part of their manufacturing.
The construction of 15 passenger vans is also unsafe. These vans have a higher center of gravity, which tends to push the weight upward and toward the rear, resulting in an increased risk of roll over. This makes them top heavy as well, and the back of the vehicle is often extended beyond the rear axle, which can cause roll over even at minimal speeds.
With all the safety concerns surrounding 15 passenger vans, it might best to invest in a 15 passenger bus, a few smaller vans, or maybe a shuttle. It might cost you a bit more, but the risks of these passenger vans far outweigh the benefits.