At churches around the country, many parents are entrusting their children to potential killers: 15-passenger vans. Actually, says the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, they're not so bad—with fewer than five passengers inside. With 10 or more there's a 35.4 percent chance they'll roll over in a crash. With 16 or more passengers the likelihood rises to 70 percent. (Passenger cars have less than a 10 percent rollover chance.) "It's both a safety issue and a maintenance issue," says Church Mutual Insurance Company spokesman Rick Schaber, who notes that many of the rollovers are caused by tire blowouts. Still, unlike other insurance companies, his isn't refusing coverage. "They are the churches' vehicle of choice," he says.

Related Elsewhere

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has repeatedly warned of the risks of rollover in 15-passenger vans. A copy of the NHTSA analysis of the rollover characteristics of 15-passenger vans is online. The NHTSA has also issued advice on reducing the risk.

Recent articles and press releases on rollover danger:

Packed vans have higher risk of rolloversIn a rarely issued consumer advisory, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that the 15-passenger vans be operated only by experienced drivers. (USA Today, April 9, 2002)
Van Safety UpdateA summary of recent precedent-setting court rulings and legislative acts affecting churches. (Your Church, Sept./Oct., 2001)

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