Knoxville personal injury lawyers have seen several horrific crashes in recent months -- including a church-van accident in Georgia and another in New York.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began the year with an urgent message to owners of the more than 500,000 registered 15-passenger vans. Schools may not purchase the vans for use as school buses. Passengers should buckle up. Tire wear, speed and overloading are all issues that can increase the risk of a serious or fatal accident.
The tire issue is so critical that the government is sending postcards to all owners of 15-passenger cans. Patrick James' 10-year-old daughter, Lexie, was killed in an accident three years ago. He now runs the nonprofit American Center for Van and Tire Safety. He has helped document at least 23 deadly accidents involving the vans last year.
"Three-and-a-half years after my daughter was killed, I've never seen one of the warnings," James said. "And I look for them. I don't even get Google alerts about them. If we don't get them, who gets them? That's why they said, 'We can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results.' "
Daycare centers, church organizations and schools use the vans frequently. A federal law now forbids schools from purchasing new vans for student transport. However, many remain in use. Such organizations have an obligation to provide for the safe transport of passengers. When they don't, and a serious or fatal accident results, an experienced injury lawyer should be consulted immediately to help protect the rights of you and your family.
The government reminds drivers, passengers and van owners:
-Drivers should be experienced and well-trained.
-Fatigue can slow response times. Drivers should be well rested.
-The vehicle should be inspected before every trip, especially the tires.
-Vehicle weight limits should be carefully followed and weight should be evenly distributed.
-All passengers should wear seat belts.
-Tires should be carefully inspected and replaced as needed.