Thursday, July 28, 2011

NewsChannel5 Investigative Report: Warnings Issued Against Use Of 15-Passenger Vans

By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter
Posted: Jul 28, 2011 8:56 PM ADT

NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered a long history of problems with the type of van involved in the fatal crash in Humphreys County that claimed the life of a 14-year-old girl.

Click here to read original article on News Channel 5

The 15-passenger vans are one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road in terms of rollover. It's against federal law for schools to buy them to transport children.

"It's a dangerous vehicle and the public should be warned," said Nashville attorney Jason Nahon.

Nahon's firm is representing someone involved in a separate 15 passenger van crash. In fact, since 2000 there have been 1,200 lawsuits filed against the various makers of these vehicles.

It all has to do with their increased likelihood for rolling over.

According the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the more passengers that ride inside the van, the more unstable it becomes. Part of the problem is the design that puts several seats behind the back wheels and the extra weight there can make the van harder to maneuver.

NHTSA has issued at least three warnings about these vehicles since 2001. An advisory last year had a series of warnings for churches and other non-profits that often uses the vehicles.

NHTSA said the risk for rollover increases at speeds over 50 miles an hour.

And between 1990 and 2002, 349 of the vehicles were involved in roll over crashes.

Nahon blames the van for Thursday's tragic crash.

"They're going to try to blame this on the driver and I'm going to tell you in my opinion it's the vehicle. If I could put the vehicle in jail for this I really would," Nahon explained.

All American car makers sell a version of the van. All insist if driven properly they are safe.

In 2009, two insurers used by churches and schools said they would not cover any more 15 passenger vans. Several universities have also stopped using the vans to transport their athletes.


Click here to read original article on News Channel 5