A church van crash in Florida is yet again raising concerns about the use of unsafe 15-passenger vans by churches, schools and community organizations to transport small groups of people. On Sunday night a 15-passenger van crash in Ocala left 12 passengers, all from a church group, injured. One of them is still in the hospital with critical injuries, according to an MSNBC news report.
The accident reportedly happened in the northbound lanes of the I-75. The driver lost control of the vehicle, which landed on its side. Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate one passenger whose leg was trapped between the ground and the van, according to the report.
It’s a miracle that no one was fatally injured in this crash. For many years now, the federal government has repeatedly issued warnings that these 15-passenger vans are nothing short of death traps. Yet community groups, universities, childcare centers and schools continue to use them. Some of them may not know the hazards, but most groups roll the dice and operate the vans anyway because they are cheaper and can conveniently transport these groups, but at what cost? Some church groups are now switching to more expensive minivans, which is great. But there are still too many of these 15-passenger vans out there, which in itself is cause for concern.
At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, we have represented numerous victims of 15-passenger van crashes. My partner, Brian Chase, is a recognized national expert on 15-passenger van rollover crashes. We find that the probability of fatalities increases as more people ride in these vans. Also, the State of Florida doesn’t require seatbelts for passengers riding these vans. That makes it even more dangerous.
The dangers of 15-passenger vans are quite significant. The NHTSA released a study two years ago which found 74 percent of all 15-passenger vans had tires which had not been properly inflated and as a result increased the propensity of the vehicle to become unstable or roll over – even in normal speeds, road conditions and weather conditions. Only 39 percent of passenger cars reportedly had a similar problem. The report strongly recommends all occupants to wear seatbelts because studies found that nearly 80 percent of those who died in 15-passenger van accidents between 1990 and 2003 were not wearing seatbelts.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a 15-passenger van accident, call us for a free consultation. If you are a community group or organization that is still using these vans, please stop now. These are dangerous, unstable vehicles that have caused major injuries, deaths and unnecessary tragedies.