15-passenger van users urged to drive with caution this summer

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New research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found June through August to be the deadliest time of year for 15-passenger van occupants due to rollover crashes. Statistics show that 31 percent of fatal rollovers involving 15-passenger vans occur during the busy summer travel months.

NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason is urging all 15-passenger van users to take appropriate safety precautions when taking to the road during this busy travel season. “The last thing we want is a summer outing to turn into a tragic memory,” Nason says.

NHTSA data shows a significant increase in rollover risk when the van is fully loaded with drivers and passengers. In 2006, 50 percent of occupant fatalities that occurred were in vans that were fully loaded; 59 percent of those killed were unbelted.

Other factors that contribute to rollover incidents include improperly inflated tires, poor tire condition and inexperienced drivers, according to the data. Owners should follow manufacturers’ recommendations for replacing old tires because tires may become less safe after a certain period of time, even if they have adequate tread and proper inflation.

“For a safe trip, buckle up, check the tire pressure and make sure an experienced driver is behind the wheel before heading out on the roads this summer,” Nason says. Overall statistics show the number of deaths in 15-passenger van rollover crashes has been declining steadily since 2001; however, these vehicles still pose a safety risk to occupants, claiming the lives of 58 people in accidents in 2006.

For more information about 15-passenger van safety, go to www.safercar.gov.