Don’t “Rollover” on safety when it comes to operating a 15-Passenger Van
On June 13th, 2015 on I-40W in Johnston County, NC, 15 people were seriously injured in a 15 passenger van accident involving a church group heading to Wrightsville Beach from Raleigh, NC. Officials stated the cause of the accident was a tire blowing out on the highway, causing the vehicle to strike the center guardrail, forcing the vehicle to roll over at a high rate of speed. Something simple as a pre-trip vehicle inspection, though simple to do, is often overlooked when schools, childcare center, churches and non-profit organizations etc. loan their vehicles to their members, volunteers or employees. Often we find many of these accidents are caused by overloading a 15 passenger vehicle, improper maintenance or improper weight distribution.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as Spring/Summer driving season is underway, some simple tips you should consider prior to planning a trip utilizing a 15 passenger vehicle. http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2012/Consumer+Advisory:+NHTSA+Offers+Tips+for+Safe+Travel+in+15-Passenger+Vans
· Never overload the vehicle.
· If you are a passenger, make sure you buckle up for every trip.
· If you are an owner, make sure the vehicle is regularly maintained.
· Owners should have suspension and steering components inspected according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule and replace or repair these parts as necessary.
· Owners should ensure that vehicles are equipped with properly sized and load-rated tires.
· Owners should also make sure drivers are properly licensed and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van.
· Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear or damage. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner's manual and on the door pillar.
As an insurance risk advisor, we consult our clients on phasing out their 15 passenger vehicles and replacing those automobiles mini-bus models that have dual rear tires. These vehicles provide greater stability and safety on the highway in the event of a tire blowout. Often budgetary constraints prevent organizations from replacing specific vehicles in their fleet, so our recommendations are communicate the dangers of operating a vehicle with multiple passengers, properly train operators about the risks involved and review your auto liability program. Purchase an umbrella or excess liability policy with adequate limits of liability to provide excess coverage in addition to your underlying auto liability program. Most business auto policies have $1,000,000 of liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage, which is many find is not adequate following a 15 passenger van accident.
Call or email us if you would like to have our risk consultants evaluate your policies, procedures and limits of liability.