Rollover Alert: Feds Extend Warning About Large Passenger Vans

October 15, 2010
2000 Ford Econoline Wagon XL

2000 Ford Econoline Wagon XL

Just as the school year is underway, and the busy holiday travel season approaches, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reiterated its advisory for drivers and passengers of 15-passenger vans.

These vans, which include long versions of the Chevrolet Express, GMC Savana or Ford Econoline or Club Wagon, along with discontinued models like the Rally/Vandura or Dodge Ram Van, have a body-on-frame configuration that creates a higher center of gravity and makes them more prone to roll over in abrupt maneuvers. Some newer models from the past decade have stability control, which helps reduce the chances of that happening.

Recently, the agency says, there were two more fatal crashes in New York and Georgia, resulting in ten deaths.

Because of budgetary cuts, older vans might be placed in service longer than they might otherwise, and these vans often don't provide the same level of safety as school buses, according to NHTSA. They're also likely to be used, secondhand, by church groups and touring bands.

Although these cautions don't explicitly apply to the shorter models of these vans, drivers and passengers should heed the same advice.

See NHTSA's safety tips below. And for detailed advice, please refer to the NHTSA site or read through our more extensive information at Full-Size Vans: What You Need To Know To Arrive Safely.

  • If you are an owner, make sure the vehicle is properly maintained.
  • Owners should make sure drivers are fully trained and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van and are properly licensed.
  • 15-passenger vans are very sensitive to loading and should not be overloaded under any circumstances. Agency research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers.
  • Owners should make sure that properly sized tires are being used on their vehicles.
  • Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner's manual.
  • If you are a passenger, make sure you buckle up for every trip.


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