WASHINGTON – As the spring driving season gets under way, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging drivers of 15-passenger vans to take specific steps to keep safe — including buckling up every trip, every time.
Since 15-passenger vans are particularly sensitive to loading, the agency warns users never to overload these vehicles under any circumstances. NHTSA research shows overloading 15-passenger vans both increases rollover risk and makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers.
Tire pressure can vary on front and back tires that are used for 15-passenger vans. This is why the agency urges vehicle users to make certain the vans have appropriately sized and load-rated tires that are properly inflated before every trip. Taking into account the fact that tires degrade over time, NHTSA recommends that spare tires not be used as replacements for worn tires. In fact, many tire manufacturers recommend that tires older than 10 years not be used at all.
Following are safety tips for anyone planning a trip in a 15-passenger van:
• Never overload the vehicle.
• If you are a passenger, make sure you buckle up for every trip.
• If you are an owner, make sure the vehicle is regularly maintained.
• Owners should have suspension and steering components inspected according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule and replace or repair these parts as necessary.
• Owners should ensure that vehicles are equipped with properly sized and load-rated tires.
• Owners should also make sure drivers are properly licensed and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van.
• Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear or damage. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner's manual and on the door pillar.