Whether they’re used to drive children to daycare, older people to senior citizen events, athletic teams to sporting events, or employees in carpools, 15-passenger vans are in high demand. 15-passenger vans have become very popular because they’re large and especially practical in densely populated areas. However, because 15-passenger vans are cumbersome, they can pose a safety risk to inexperienced drivers and other road users. If you happen to be a driver or a passenger in one of these vans, it’s important to use caution in order to minimize the risks associated with riding in them.
Here are a few safety tips to help protect people who operate 15-passenger vans:
- Drivers Need Experience – Fifteen -passenger vans should only be driven by experienced, licensed drivers who operate this type of vehicle on a regular basis. A commercial driver’s license is ideal. It’s important to know that 15-passenger vans handle differently than cars or minivans, especially when fully loaded.
- Be Attentive Inside the Van – Always stay focused on the task of safe driving by being well-rested. Never use a handheld phone at the wheel, and limit conversation with other passengers. Drivers shouldn’t drive more than 8 hours per day.
- Watch Your Speed – Always obey the posted speed limit, and reduce your speed as needed based on road or weather conditions. Remember that 15-passenger vans require additional braking time and cannot handle abrupt maneuvers the way cars can.
- Enforce Seat Belt Etiquette – All occupants need to wear seat belts at all times. Inspect seat belts regularly and replace any missing, broken, or damaged belts. An unrestrained 15-passenger-van occupant involved in a single-vehicle crash is approximately four times more likely to be killed than a restrained occupant.
- Monitor Tire Pressure – Inspect the tires and check tire pressure before each use. A van’s tires, including the spare tire, need to be properly inflated, and the tread should not be worn down. Excessively worn or improperly inflated tires can lead to a loss of vehicle control and possibly a rollover. If you aren’t sure about how to maintain a van’s tires, check the driver’s side door pillar or the owner’s manual for the recommended tire size and pressure. Recommended tire pressure may be different for front and back tires.
- Don’t Forget the Spares – All tires weaken with age—even unused tires. Avoid using an old spare on your 15-passenger van. Used 15-passenger vans may come with dangerous spare tires that are many years old. You can confirm a tire’s age by finding its Tire Identification Number (TIN) on the tire’s sidewall. The last four digits of the TIN indicate the week and year the tire was made.
- Respect Occupancy Limits – Never allow more than 15 people to ride in a 15-passenger van. Fill the seats from front to back. When the van isn’t full, passengers should sit in seats that are located in front of the rear axle.
- Secure Your Cargo – Cargo should preferably be placed forward of the rear axle. Avoid overloading the van or placing any loads on the roof. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for information about the maximum weight of passengers and cargo. Keep in mind that towing also have weight limits.
- Remember Your Vehicle’s Size – A 15-passenger van is substantially longer and wider than a car, and thus requires more space to maneuver. It also requires additional reliance on the side-view mirrors for changing lanes. Regardless of how much experience you might have, always drive large vehicles with caution.
All vehicles aren’t created equal. Small cars are less intimidating and much easier to control than large vans and trucks. If you ever find yourself behind the wheel of a 15-passenger van, bear in mind that there are multiple levels of safety to consider. Not only should you pay attention to your own driving skills, but you also have to make sure that the van isn’t overloaded with passengers or cargo. Always maintain the van well and don’t become distracted or reckless as a driver. For more information on how Adriana’s Insurance Services can help you stay safe on the road, visit any of our offices or give us a call at 1-800-639-7654. We got you covered!