For church groups, senior living communities and other congregations of eager travelers, 15 passenger vans and minibuses are lifesavers. On many occasions, there simply wouldn’t be any service ventures, field trips or fun getaway days without them. They offer reliable, comfortable traveling options for large groups of people.
But while getting from Point A to Point B is important, ensuring safety of all passengers aboard takes top priority.
Large vehicles like 15 passenger vans and shuttle buses require different considerations than typical family cars and vans because of their immensity. When they aren’t adhered to, disaster often strikes: The National Transportation Safety Board reports that from 1994 to 2004, over 1,500 fatal crashes involving 15 passenger vans occurred. The good news is that many of these accidents were caused by factors that were entirely preventable — it’s all about paying closer attention to the details of the van itself. For starters…
Know your tire pressures before you hit the road.
Large church buses and passenger vans tend to suffer from under-inflated tires because of how much additional weight they carry when compared to standard sedans and sports cars. The less air pressure you have inside your tires, the shorter the lifespan of your tires. That’s why you should be consistently checking the condition of your tires, giving special attention to the pressure readings but also making sure no debris is causing air to seep out slowly. And if your van’s been sitting in a lot for the entirety of the winter, it’s probably time to invest in brand new tires altogether.
Ensure all seat belts are functioning properly.
This one should be a no-brainer, but for different reasons than you’d expect. Obviously, seat belts are always a good idea when you’re driving or riding in any kind of moving vehicle. But 15 passenger vans can sometimes roll over more easily than cars because of their more robust weight, leading drivers to lose control of them more easily. Good drivers know how to handle these situations though, and good passengers understand that seat belts can save their lives should an accident happen to them.
For drivers, obtain training for operating larger vehicles.
Speaking of drivers, it’s important to note how operating these machines is much different than taking a four-door out for a cruise. Mainly, the handling is much, much different given the weight of the cargo and the passengers in tow. It’s the kind of thing that you need to practice a few — or a whole lot of — times before you’re actually ready to do it on a regular basis, and that’s where professional training comes in.
Keep the weight limits of the van in mind.
More weight tends to shift the center of gravity for these 15 passenger vans to the rear of the vehicle. This is due to both actual people and sometimes even simple things like suitcases, duffel bags, coolers and anything else that contributes to the overall mass of the machine. As we mentioned before, the more experienced a driver is, the less your van will have to worry about these kinds of problems. But they’re still worth keeping in mind, especially when it comes to long trips.
Safety shouldn’t ever be overlooked, especially for large passenger vans and buses. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you’re doing things the right way.