Critical injuries were reported following the Tennessee crash of a passenger van carrying 11 people, seven of those being 16-year-old members of a girls basketball team. Two other passengers were under the age of 2.
Our Knoxville injury lawyers understand that the minivan driver, one of the coaches, clipped another vehicle, causing the vehicle to cross over the yellow line into oncoming traffic. At that point, the van smashed nearly head-on into a Camaro.
The incident happened about 20 miles south of Nashville.
The girls were in Tennessee to compete in a basketball tournament. The children were hurt, but were released from the hospital. However, the adult coaches as well as the two adults in the Camaro were critically injured.
In many cases, such accidents involving school travel occur in 15-passenger vans, which are so dangerous the federal government outlaws their use for school transportation. Even though they are frequently used to transport school sports teams, students, day care children, the elderly and church groups. When loaded with more than 10 people, these vans are three times more likely to roll over.
There were more than 1,500 fatal crashes involving 15 passenger vans between 1994 and 2004. A third of those involved a rollover.
One of the biggest problems with these vehicles is that the tires are frequently under-inflated. That in turn leads to higher tire temperatures, which results in faster tire deterioration and stability is significantly diminished. The more passengers you add, the more the center of gravity shifts higher further to the rear. That is going to increase the tendency for a rollover, and it's also going to up the chances that the driver is going to lose control if he or she needs to enact an emergency maneuver.
Another recent passenger van crash this month in Illinois resulted in five deaths and six injuries. The van, which belonged to a church group, reportedly smashed into a median, crossed into oncoming traffic and then rolled over several times. Nine of the 11 individuals were tossed from the vehicle.
Horrific crashes like this are a large part of the reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued numerous cautionary advisories pertaining to the use of 15-passenger vans. Among those warnings are those that state the vehicles should not be used to transport school children, as they don't provide the same level of safety as a larger school bus. In fact, federal law forbids schools from purchasing new 15-passenger vans for the purpose of transporting students.
If you or your organization regularly uses a 15-passenger van, take the time to read the following:
- Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained;
- Owners should ensure that any drivers are fully-trained and experienced in operating one of these vehicles and also that he or she is properly licensed;
- Overloading should not be done under ANY circumstances;
- Make sure that the tires are properly sized and also inflated;
- Prior to every trip, drivers should check tire inflation and ensure there are no significant signs of wear;
- Passengers should buckle up each and every time.