Passenger Van Accidents

Tennessee Personal Injury Law: Passenger Van Accidents

Passenger van accidents concept. Trip of people in a minibus in the afternoon

Passenger vans are among the most popular modes of transportation for groups totaling anywhere between 9 and 15 passengers. More specifically, though, the 15-passenger van can commonly be seen transporting sports teams, church groups, and tourists. These vehicles are incredibly convenient for such groups, and much more affordable than traveling by plane or numerous separate vehicles. However, with the convenience and affordability such vehicles have to offer comes inherent risks.

Serious Dangers & Risks of Passenger Vans

The passenger van accident lawyers at InjuryTN understand there is an abundance of data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association which should raise some concern. Passenger vans are commonly driven by individuals who only have experience driving commuter vehicles, leaving them unable to adequately maintain their vans, and frequently overload them.

When these vans become overloaded, they are at a much higher risk of rolling over. Evaluations conducted by the NHTSA have led to the determination that the more people are loaded into these vehicles, the higher chance they have of getting into an accident. This is why such passenger vehicles should not be overloaded, but, unfortunately, many drivers continue to disregard or completely miss this critical precaution.

While buses usually are not equipped with seatbelts, passenger vans are. However, the majority of passengers in these vehicles typically do not utilize them, as the NHTSA reports high percentages year after year of individuals killed in passenger van accidents who failed to use safety restraints.

Passenger vans are notoriously bulky vehicles which tend to handle in a much different way than trucks or compact cars. The differing dimensions in a passenger van from that of smaller vehicles, as well as its likelihood to be accidentally overloaded, make its stability an issue for the driver, who has an equally high probability of losing control in the event of an emergency situation.

While federal laws governing passenger van safety specifications have recently made it a requirement for all new-model passenger vans to be equipped with electronic stability control, which has the capacity to assist drivers in maintaining control of the vehicle when it starts skidding, the majority of older models do not have this safety feature.

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Passenger Van Operator Liability

It is worth mentioning that the liability of the driver, vehicle owner, manufacturer, or organization is not impeded by their inability to utilize such safety devices. Certain aspects that our knowledgeable bus accident injury lawyers will evaluate the specific circumstances of your passenger van accident, which often includes:

  • The driver’s level of fatigue while operating the vehicle
  • The driver’s level of training
  • Whether the driver was intoxicated
  • Whether the driver improperly loaded the van
  • Whether the van or its equipment were inadequately maintained

Other Risks for Passenger Vans

Additional dangers are added when taking into consideration the fact that most passenger van operators do not have an abundance of experience behind the wheel of such a sizable and powerful vehicle. A Tennessee Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is only required for operators whose intent is transporting vehicles that either have a combined weight exceeding 26,000 pounds or has more than fifteen (15) passengers (including the operator). Often cases will involve a driver who may only be a volunteer or other individual with little experience behind the wheel of a passenger van. While there are no laws prohibiting it, the NHTSA suggests that only drivers who are experienced in handling large vehicles should be in operation of passenger vans.

Passenger vans also pose a serious threat when their tires have been inflated improperly or are old and worn out. According to recent reports from the NHTSA, one in three passenger vans driving on the road will have at least one tire that is under-inflated. This places individuals onboard the van at high risk. This issue is due, in part, to the fact that the tire pressure will be different between the front and back tires. Tires will also normally be worn down over time, which is why the federal government consistently encourages drivers to check their tire pressure prior to taking any trips. Drivers should ensure that their van has the correct size of tires which are load-rated as well as appropriately inflated. Old tires should never be replaced with spare tires, and remember, passenger van manufacturers recommend that tires over 10 years old should be replaced.

Tips for the Safety of Passenger Van Drivers & Riders

The NHTSA has outlined some basic tips for the safety of those driving or riding in passenger vans, which includes the following:

  • Do NOT overload the vehicle
  • Always wear a seatbelt when riding or driving a passenger van
  • Always ensure your passenger van has been properly and regularly maintained
  • Always ensure that anyone who will be operating the vehicle has the appropriate license as well as experience to operate it
  • Have your vehicle inspected regularly, as often as is recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, and replace parts as soon as it is necessary
  • Ensure that the vehicle’s tires are the correct size and are load-rated
  • Always remember to inspect the tires for signs of damage, wear and air pressure prior to driving

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