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For big families; churches and private schools, the practical 15-passenger van has become a popular alternative to buses and caravans of small cars. People usually think that once they have a drivers license, they can easily handle driving a van. But due to its dimensions, driving a van is a completely different story from driving a smaller passenger vehicle, even an SUV. And if vans are not driven and maintained properly, chances of collisions are extremely high. Ensure passenger van safety and make all trips a pleasure.
The main safety concern of driving vans is the high rate of rollovers. Vans are typically longer, higher and wider than small passenger cars and they require extra braking distance and specific use of side mirrors for changing lanes. The driver’s experience also plays a significant role in mastering this type of automobile.
NHTSA research shows that the main reasons for van rollovers are:
Improperly sized and/or inflated tires
Incorrectly loaded cargo and passengers that affect center of gravity
To avoid the unfortunate mistakes and distressing consequences, van drivers should pay close attention to the following things:
- Check the tires frequently . NHTSA says that tire inflation is the most important part of the check-up list for vans. NHTSA research shows that tires on vans are often under-inflated and in use past their service life. Check the tire pressure and choose the correct size of the wheels, when replacing them.
— Hire an experienced driver , who understands vans’ characteristics, especially when the vehicles are fully loaded.
— Always fill the front seats first. Avoid greater possibility of a rollover by loading the vehicle properly.
— Do not use a van as a school bus. School buses are designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in avoiding crashes and preventing injury.
- Buckle up . All passengers need to wear seat belts at all times. Inspect seat belts regularly and replace any missing, broken or damaged belts and buckles.
— Slow down . Always observe and maintain the speed limit. Drive at a safe speed based on driving conditions. Always slow down if the roads are wet or icy, because these vehicles do not respond well to abrupt steering maneuvers and require additional braking time.
— Don’t overload the vehicle . Vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating .
— Cargo should be placed forward of the rear axle and placing any loads on the roof should be avoided. Do not tow anything behind the van. See vehicle owner’s manual for maximum weight.
Have fun driving these mini buses, but don’t forget that when you are driving a passenger van, you are responsible for the life and health of 16 people. Take a defensive driving course to be assured, calm and knowledgeable of how to deal with tricky road situations.