Staying Safe in 15-Passenger Vans



The big news around the BSA recently has been the impending ban on 15-passenger vans made before the 2005 model year. These older vans don’t have electronic stability control (ESC) and are thus more at risk for rollover crashes. Newer vans that have ESC and seatbelts for all passengers will still be permitted.

The ban, which takes effect on Sept. 1, 2015, applies to all such vans used in Scouting, including those owned by councils, chartered organizations, outfitters, and individuals and those rented from third parties. (My hunch is you won’t find such an old van at Hertz or Avis, but who knows what Bob’s Discount Rentals and Day-old Sushi To-Go has on the lot!) See Bryan’s Blog for more on the new policy.

The problem with 15-passenger vans, which ESC is designed to address, is that they have a high center of gravity–much higher than the ordinary passenger car. This makes them prone to tipping over, especially if the driver over-corrects (after running off the edge of the road, for example).

Even if you’re using a newer 15-passenger van, keep these tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in mind:

  • 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.

Brotherhood Mutual, which specializes in insurance for churches, offers more tips at its website.

Fifteen-passenger vans can be an efficient way to get to camp–but only if you actually get there. Think safety!



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