15 Seat Passenger Van Accidents
Large passenger vans are some of the most unstable vehicles on the road due to their extremely high centers of gravity and relatively short and narrow wheel bases. To make matters worse, these large passenger vans require no special training or licensing to operate, which puts occupants and others on the road at great risk. If you were injured in an accident involving a passenger van, either with another car or as a single-vehicle incident, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other substantial damages are covered by the responsible party.
Safety Standards for Passenger Vans Must be Met by the Company or Driver
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges companies to have rules regarding safety and maintenance for 15-passenger vans. Companies that operate these vehicles, such as hotels, tour groups, airport shuttle taxis, or other services, are responsible for following these rules to ensure that their passengers are not put in harm’s way. These guidelines include:
- Seat belt use: Many people assume that because of the vehicle’s size or the short duration of the trip, a seat belt is not necessary. However, this is simply not the case. Companies need to make seat belts available to everyone, and all passengers should take it upon themselves to buckle up. 93% of occupants who suffered fatal injuries in passenger van accidents were not wearing seat belts, and 44% of fatalities were caused by ejections;
- Drivers need to check tire pressure, that the correct tire size is being used, and ensure that the tires are not worn or damaged;
- The vehicle should never be overloaded, and passengers and cargo should be evenly dispersed throughout the vehicle;
- Drinking and driving is obviously prohibited;
- Vehicles need to be maintained and serviced regularly, particularly the brakes, steering, and suspension.
Tragic Example of a Large Van Being Struck From Behind
In 2016 in the small community of Trinity, Texas a 15-seat passenger van that was being used as a school bus stopped to pick up a student and was violently rear-ended by a distracted truck driver who claimed that he was blinded by the sun. While his excuse is likely fabricated and of little substance, the school could be held liable for not using a school bus with flashing lights. However, according to statute 34.003, school buses that service routes with 10 or fewer students can utilize 15-seat passenger vans instead of school buses. This statue weighs on the minds of many Texas parents, though raising taxes to purchase a fully equipped school bus would certainly have many critics.
When to Call a Lawyer
Companies like Super Shuttle operate in many cities in the United States including Houston. They run shuttles to and from the major airports, George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) north of Houston and William P. Hobby Airport (HOB) southeast. In order to get to these airports you have to drive on busy interstate highways like interstate 10 and 45 and tollways such as Beltway 8 Sam Houston Parkway. These are busy freeways, couple that with the driver’s job of ensuring you get to the airport on time for your flight and this can be a recipe for disaster.
Given that many operators of these large vans do so commercially this means that making a claim for your injuries is more complex. If you were involved in a wreck while riding in one of these vans with other customers and there were other vehicles involved, the situation will be difficult to sort out. There could be 2 or 3 insurance companies involved and many claims. That is why your best option is to contact an experienced car accident attorney, someone who can be your advocate. Contact the Houston law offices of Michael P. Fleming & Associates for legal help today.
National Highway Transportation Safety Association, 15-passenger vans
KHOU New Houston, Trinity van crash
Texas State Legislature, public education and transportation