You might want to check the keys to your church vehicles. Does your church use a 15-passenger van? If so, it’s time to trade them in for a safer option.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
identifies the 15-passenger van as a particularly dangerous
vehicle. Multiple deaths within our church organizations
occurred due to the use of 15-passenger vans. The NHTSA
reports that 653 occupants of 15-passenger vans were killed
during 2004-2013 alone.
“Manufacturers of the 15-passenger van say the safety
problems of the vehicle have been addressed in the latest
model. They are typically less expensive than buying a bus.
Why shouldn’t we use them?”
Van manufacturers claim improvements in the safety rating
of the latest version of these vehicles. These claims must be
verified by a qualified third-party, standard-setting organization,
such as the NHTSA. The NHTSA released a statement on their
website recently on 15-passenger vans that cautions readers to
check tires regularly due to the dangerous nature of these vehicles.
There was no mention, however, of an improved safety
rating. Therefore, the improvements do not qualify as verified.
Adventist Risk Management (ARM) and the North American
Division (NAD) do not support the use of 15-passenger
vans. Beginning in 2008 NAD, along with ARM, recommended
the removal of these vans from ownership or use by all church
organizations. All church organizations are encouraged to use
other vehicles that are safe and verified.
In addition to the NAD policy discouraging the use of
15-passenger vans, the Division has included these specific
guidelines if the vans are used:
• Currently owned fifteen-passenger vans shall be properly maintained and the driver is required to conduct a pre-trip inspection to determine if the vehicle is in safe operating condition.
• Fifteen-passenger vans shall not be allowed to tow a trailer or use a roof mounted luggage/equipment rack.
• It is recommended that all drivers who operate a fifteen-passenger
van be licensed with a minimum of a Commercial
Drivers License (CDL) or better in accordance with Federal,
State or Provincial laws in the local jurisdiction.
You can find these guidelines listed in NAD Working Policy
of 2014-2015 on page S-52.
Your local conference or church organization may also have
further specific guidelines for the use or may even prohibit the
use of 15-passenger vans. Always check to see if your church
organization has such guidelines before using these vehicles.
If your church organization is still in the process of selling
any 15-passenger vans, it is strongly encouraged that these vehicles
are disposed of immediately. If your local church board still
chooses to use these dangerous vehicles, these NHTSA guidelines
should be followed to provide as much safety as possible.
• Never overload the vehicle. The NHTSA recently said: “Recognizing that 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.”
• 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, 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
PROTECT YOUR FLOCK
It is better to avoid risk and possible injury all together by
using the safest means of transportation. If the only option is
to use a not-so-safe vehicle, make sure all guidelines and procedures
are followed. Psalm 4:8 (ESV) says, “In peace I will
both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell
in safety.” We can be sure that God will always protect us, but
we must do our part to protect His flock by using the safest
1. http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/20... nhtsa-15-passenger-van-safety-advisory-2015
David Fournier is the regional manager for North America at
Adventist Risk Management, Inc.