Bus Accident Dangers
The danger of a 15-passenger van rollover is great, and finally safety concerns are being addressed. In 1971, the full size Dodge Ram Wagon passenger van was brought out. Since then, 15-passenger vans have been responsible for thousands of deaths while the large vehicles transport children to sporting events and church outings and airport passengers to hotels and seniors on special outings. Between 1990 and 2002, there were 1,576 15-passenger vans involved in fatal crashes that resulted in 1,111 fatalities to occupants of such vans. Of these, 657 vans were in fatal, single vehicle crashes, of which 349 rolled over. The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a consumer safety advisory in April 2001 and April 2002, warning of the deadly dangers of 15-passenger van rollovers and crashes, but still the vehicles continued to be exempt from numerous federal safety standards.
In September 2003, the NHTSA issued an Action Plan for 15-passenger Van Safety, calling for additional research, evaluation of a rollover hazard label for the vans and other measures. By February 2004, the Senate passed S.1072, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 (SAFETEA 2003). The cost for manufacturers to correct problems with the 15-passenger vans that would make rollovers and fatality less a risk are minimal, yet manufacturers have so far done little to change the vehicles because doing so would be admitting a defective product.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study in October 2004 saying stability control systems could save up to 7,000 lives each year if they were standard equipment on all vehicles. Stability control systems use sensors on the accelerator, brakes and steering wheel to calculate a driver's intended path. A computer adjusts the speed of one or more wheels to help the driver regain control if the vehicle begins veering off the road. Stability control in the U.S. has developed much slower than in Europe or Japan because the automakers that have offered it so far have only put it in as an option or part of a luxury package.
118 people die in vehicle crashes every day in the United States. In response to its investigation of the fatal crash of a child care center's 15-passenger van, the NTSB recommended that the U.S. and the District of Columbia should require that all vehicles carrying 10 or more passengers transporting children to and from school and school related activities comply with school bus structural standards or equivalent safety standards. They also recommended that manufacturers create lap and shoulder seatbelts adjustable since seat belts in 15-passenger vans that were made were designed to fit poorly.
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