Early this week, a church van swerved off Interstate 70 in Southern Illinois and rolled over multiple times. Five men were killed and six others injured in this tragic 15-passenger van accident.
While authorities are investigating the accident to determine why the van left the road, at least one thing is certain: The men were not in the safest of vehicles.
Fifteen-passenger vans have a rollover risk that even surpasses that of some SUVs, and the more people who ride in a van, the greater the risk. If a 15-passenger van is carrying more than 10 passengers, the risk of rollover increases three-fold. The reason lies in the way the vans are built. When more passengers ride in a van, the center of gravity is forced upward and to the back of the vehicle, increasing rollover potential.
The vans are also prone to rollover because their tires are frequently underinflated. Unlike most cars, 15-passenger vans often sit in parking lots for long periods of time and the tires can begin to rot. Furthermore, the tires in the front may require a different level of inflation than those in the back, which can be confusing to van owners and operators. Usually, front tires require up to 50 lbs of inflation compared with 80 lbs in the rear tires.
Finally, the drivers of 15-passenger vans are often people who have rented the vans or reserved them for school or church trips. Many are unaccustomed to the way that the vans handle, which is significantly different from cars.
In sum, 15-passenger vans are not a safe form of travel, but they are often necessary to transport a large number of people. It is vital to train drivers on safe use of the vans and to frequently inspect the vans and their tires for ware. Failure to do so can lead to serious accidents — like Monday’s van accident in Southern Illinois — and the tragic loss of life.
Learn about recovering compensation after a van accident by visiting our page on vehicle accidents.
Source: CNN “Five dead in Illinois van crash,” May 20, 2013
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15-Passenger van rolls over, kills five people in southern Illinois