Churches, nonprofit organizations and private schools are becoming increasingly mindful of the insurance cost for 15-passenger vans. Vans of this size are attractive because of size and efficiency. The ability to carry large groups of youth, sports teams, campers and the like, while promoting fellowship is a real advantage. However, while these vans hold that attraction, they also hold risks. Insurance cost for 15-passenger vans can triple with one accident. Let’s take a look at the dangers with some solutions to keep your insurance cost for 15-passenger vans within your organization’s budget.
While 15-passenger vans are efficient, they pose high safety risks. In fact, one study showed 1100 fatalities in 15-passenger van crashes from 1992-2002.
1. Rollover Risk
15-passenger vans have a high rollover risk. In fact, nearly 60% of fatalities in crashes were from rollover. There are several factors that contribute to high rollover rates in these vehicles. First, they are longer than the average vehicle. In the automotive industry, group vans went from standard 12-passenger up to the 15-passenger model. With that extra length came risk. Next, because they are so large, they tend to be packed with people or cargo. This adds to the rollover risk. Third, 15-passenger vans are simply not equipped to handle even mildly inclement weather, such as rain, or road architecture. In fact, the chance of rolling over is two-fold on a curved road in these vans than on a straight one.
Follow these steps to reduce rollover risk:
- Keep occupancy to ten people or less if possible.
- If the van has less than fifteen passengers, fill the front first.
- Never put cargo on the roof.
- Maintain a speed under 50 mph.
2. Inexperienced Drivers
Most people are inexperienced at handling this size and dynamic of a vehicle. As cited above, 15-passenger vans handle road terrain and conditions very different than even today’s standard SUV. Inexperienced drivers do not know this. However, it is fairly common to put a volunteer or young driver behind the wheel of a 15-passenger van without proper training on its handling or the proper licensing.
Follow these steps to reduce your risk:
- All drivers must acquire a CDL license and keep it up to date.
- Do not allow persons without proper licensing to operate the vehicle on your organization’s behalf.
- Provide re-training once a year to all licensed and approved drivers.
3. Infrequent Use
15-passenger vans simply do not get used very often. They stay in the building garage for weeks or months. In the case of no garage, they stay out in the elements. All of this is a recipe for wear and tear. Because of this, routine inspections easily fall to the wayside from lack of use. Brake capability, tire pressures, safety equipment all go unchecked due to infrequent use.
Here are ways to ensure safety and lower your risk:
- Perform safety checks every six months.
- Ensure routine maintenance with a log outlining what was done.
- Replace old or worn out tires. Measure tire tread regularly.
- Maintain adequate tire pressure as directed by the owner’s manual.
4. Capacity Load
The idea behind 15-passenger vans is to carry a large load. With that, they will often get packed up top and on the inside. Equipment and baggage on the roof. The maximum number of people in the seats. Overloading 15-passenger vans may be common but it is one of the biggest mistakes in safety.
Here are solutions to keep a safe capacity load:
- Ideally, limit occupants to no more than ten people.
- Never have more than fifteen occupants, including the driver.
- Leave the roof empty. No cargo.
Tire pressure is a big factor in van accidents, here is a good reminder for the drivers to check the tire pressure everytime!
At Beacon Insurance, the difference is in our expertise. Contact us today for a review of your organization’s vehicle policies.