Rollover Problems Associated With Passenger Vans
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigates catastrophic transportation events and also researches various modes of transportation to make vehicular travel on our nation's roads safer and more efficient. Passenger van travel is an effective method of transporting a small group. Typically, passenger vans accommodate fifteen people — one driver and fourteen passengers. Passenger vans have a greater likelihood of rolling over as the number of passengers increase, according to NHTSA research. Drivers of passenger vans must be aware of the potential risk and take the precautions necessary to avoid serious injury or death.
How Does A Rollover Happen?
The NHTSA's research indicates that 90% of all rollover accidents occur when the vehicle is "tripped." In this context, "tripped" means that the vehicle goes off of the road and turns sideways. When this happens, the tires can dig into the soft ground adjacent to the road surface or hit something in the road or alongside the road, such as a guardrail.
Motor vehicles can turn sideways when a driver loses control of the car and aggressively over-corrects. They can also rollover quite dramatically when they strike a guardrail. Another common rollover scenario happens when the auto is carrying a load on its roof that is excessive in weight. The NHTSA calls this an "untripped" rollover. Untripped rollovers occur when an overloaded vehicle swerves to avoid striking something or swerves at high speeds but stays on the road, and the weight of the payload throws the vehicle off balance, causing it to rollover. Excessive weight causes approximately 5% of rollover accidents.
Passenger Van drivers must take precautions to prevent rollover crashes. The NHTSA, during one study, found that 80% of people killed in passenger van rollover crashes were not wearing a seatbelt. Therefore, one of the most important measures a passenger van operator must take is to ensure all occupants use their seatbelts. Passenger van operators must make sure that all seatbelts are in good repair and operate correctly before each use.
The NHTSA offers further recommendations for passenger van safety. Passenger van drivers have a greater responsibility than other drivers because of the size of vehicle they are operating. Drivers should be well-trained to drive a full complement of passengers. Although not required in most states, passenger van drivers should have a commercial driver's license (CDL). Also, the van driver must check the tire pressure and the wear of all tires before each voyage. Accordingly, each driver should limit their drive time to eight hours and avoid distractions such as using a cell phone, manipulating the radio, or engaging in some other behavior that averts the driver's attention off of the road. The driver should not drive at excessive speeds and also enough space between the van and other vehicles to maneuver safely as necessary. Lastly, vans should not tow anything nor should they carry cargo on the roof. Overloading the van increases the chances it will roll over if the driver must take evasive action to avoid a collision.
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