Passenger Van Wrecks

Passenger vans were designed in the 1970s when very little testing was done by manufacturers to assess the vans’ propensity to rollover or handling characteristics. These vans are exempt from many federal motor-vehicle safety standards because they are neither considered school busses nor passenger cars. Despite the fact they were originally designed to carry cargo, they often carry people. 15-passenger vans not only have a risk of rollover, but also have weak roofs that crush while rolling over. A passenger van wreck is not an accident when the faults are well known and nothing has been done to change them.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency responsible for investigating motor vehicle defects and establishing and enforcing safety performance standards. The NHTSA publishes a list of warnings for consumers summarized by the following:

  • Children (pre-school and school-aged) should not be transported in 15-passenger vans
  • The number of occupants in a passenger van greatly increases the risk of rollover. ( 5 + in 15-passenger vans)
  • A passenger van containing only a driver has a rollover rate 5 times less than that of a van with a full passenger load
  • All occupants of passenger vans should wear seatbelts.

Despite these public advisories and warnings, the NHTSA had (only until recently) exempted 15-passenger vans from all federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Furthermore, in 2003 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended the NHTSA strive to improve safety standards in the areas of occupant protection and restraints for passenger vans. The NHTSA now warns people of the dangers of 15-passenger vans, but no new safety standards have been established.

If you have sustained injuries as the occupant of a passenger van, we may be able to help. Call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 or send us an e-mail at