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Status Report, Vol. 45, No. 11 | November 3, 2010 Subscribe

Large 15-passenger vans are subject to safety advisory

Two deadly crashes involving 15-passenger vans have prompted federal officials to remind drivers of the safety considerations that go with operating these large vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns operators to check tire wear and pressure before every trip. Owners should make sure drivers are trained to operate these large vans, which churches and other nonprofit groups often use. All occupants should use safety belts.

Four people died and 15 others were injured in October when a church van, a 1987 Dodge Ram Wagon, blew a tire and rolled over on a Georgia highway. In September, 6 members of a Bronx church died and 8 were injured in a single-vehicle rollover crash on the New York State Thruway when their 1997 Ford Econoline van's rear tire ruptured.

Fifteen-passenger vans have high centers of gravity, so they're less stable than cars and harder to maneuver. These vans become increasingly difficult to handle and less stable the more people and cargo they carry.

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