Article summary. Many churches own 15-passenger vans, and most use them to carry passengers on church-approved trips. The safety of these vehicles was first called into question in a 2001 safety advisory issued by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA recently reissued this safety advisory for the fourth time in five years. This extraordinary action underscores the importance of this issue. It is critical for church leaders to deal responsibly with the risk that 15-passenger vans pose. This article reviews the recent advisory and suggests ways to manage the risk.
In recent years several 15-passenger vans have been involved in horrific accidents resulting in death or serious injury to occupants. In response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated several of these accidents, and in April of 2001 issued a rare "consumer advisory" regarding an increased rollover risk for 15-passenger vans under certain conditions. The advisory concluded that 15-passenger vans with more than 9 occupants have a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rate of vans with fewer than 10 occupants.