In July 2008, seven months after our sons were killed, Transport Canada released a 15 passenger van Fact Sheet TP 2436E in which it noted that the responsibility for deciding whether or not to use 15 passenger vans or 21 passenger MFAVs / MFABs rests in the hands of the provinces and territories.
Click here to read original FAQ sheet
Federal and provincial/territorial government responsibilities
Know government roles in large passenger van safety
•The federal government (Transport Canada) sets and enforces the safety standards required for new and imported vehicles. For example, seat belts are required in vehicles.
•The provincial/territorial governments' highway traffic acts regulate vehicle drivers and vehicle use. For example they regulate:
◦Winter tire use; and
◦Seat belt and child seat use.
The provinces/territories and local school boards choose the means and type of transportation for school children that best suits their needs.
The Canadian Standards Association has written a technical standard for a Multi-Functional Activity Bus (MFAB), referred to as D-270, which it approved in April 2008. A MFAB would be similar to a school bus, but without the traffic warning devices required for school buses since MFABs would not be designed for roadside pickup of children.
Provinces and territories will decide if they want to use the CSA technical standard for MFABs for transporting school children to extracurricular activities.
In 2001, the United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a warning that these vans had a higher chance of rolling over when they were fully loaded. Learn more at: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/studies/15PassVans/15PassCustomerAdvisory.htm
In 2008, NHTSA issued a research note stating that deaths in large passenger vans have been declining since 2001, but could not explain this trend. Learn more at: www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810947.PDF
In 2001, Transport Canada studied heavily loaded large passenger van rollover collisions in Canada. They found that over a two-year period in Ontario, only one heavily loaded van rolled over and luckily, no one was killed. One incident was not enough to issue a warning similar to the United States.
Transport Canada also conducts many on-the-scene collision investigations every year. They help determine if Canadian vehicle safety standards require change.
Make sure that everyone in your van is properly belted
Younger children should be using child seats or booster seats.
Find the FAQs on child seats at: www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/safedrivers/childsafety/index.htm to learn what kind of child seat you should use, when a child can use a regular seat belt – and more.
Know where to learn about transporting children, or children with disabilities in your van
Transport Canada cannot restrict vehicle use. Some provinces/territories and school boards do not allow the use of large passenger vans for school functions. Please contact your provincial/territorial transportation office or local school board for more details.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
There are many benefits to Electronic Stability Control (ESC). ESC systems can improve handling and help to prevent loss of control. ESC has been proven to reduce the number of single vehicle collisions and rollovers.
Learn about ESC
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is safety technology that helps drivers avoid crashes by reducing the likelihood of skidding.
To learn more about ESC please visit: www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/tp/tp14651/vs200701/menu.htm
Know if your van has ESC
ESC has been standard equipment on new large passenger vans since about 2005. For other model years, check your owner's manual, or contact your local dealership. If your van does not have ESC, it cannot be retrofitted. But when you buy your next van, make sure it is equipped with ESC.
Pay attention to your tires. The traction between the road surface and your tires is the most important factor in safe vehicle control.
Know the tire pressure you should use
Each vehicle on the road has its own required tire pressure. In fact, the front and rear tire pressures may not need to be the same. Your van's tire pressures can be found:
•In your owner's manual;
•On the tire information label located on the driver's door;
•Inside the driver's door frame; or
•Inside the glove compartment door
To see a sample tire information label, visit: www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/tp/tp2823/inflating.htm
Know which tires to use on your van
Since large vans are heavy, they require stronger tires to support the weight. Look in your owner's manual, or tire information label to find the best tire type for your van.
Learn more about tires at: www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/tp/tp2823/intro.htm.
Use winter tires
Transport Canada recommends having four winter tires for driving in cold, snowy or icy conditions. They provide better traction than all-season tires because they:
•Are made of softer rubber; and
•Have more grooves.
You can learn more about winter tires and watch videos that compare the traction of winter and all-season tires at: www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/safevehicles/safetyfeatures/wintertires/index.htm
Loading a large passenger van
Loading a van changes how it handles. That is why it is important to follow the loading instructions in the owner's manual.
Know how much weight your van can carry
The easiest way to know how much weight your van is designed to carry is to:
a.Find the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) on the driver's door post or in your owner's manual;
b.Find the weight of the empty van (net weight) in your owner's manual; then
c.Take a and subtract b. This will tell you how much weight you can add (people, fuel and cargo).
If you can't find your owner's manual, get a new one from your local dealer.
Driving a large passenger van
As with any vehicle, respect the posted speed limit, slow down when the weather and/or road conditions are poor, slow down before entering sharp curves, don't tailgate and give yourself enough room in front of you to react to sudden events such as animals or vehicles entering your lane. Take extra care when you drive on rural roads because of on-coming and passing traffic.
Large vans don't handle like cars
Since these vans are much larger and heavier than cars, be aware that they require more space when changing lanes and a longer stopping distance.
Getting off the shoulder of the road
If your tires go onto the shoulder when you drive, slow down and gently steer back on the road when it is safe to do so. Never "jerk" the steering wheel to return to the road, especially at high speeds. If you cannot return to the road due to traffic, slow to a stop.