School & District Management

Agency Issues Warning on Rollover Risk for Large Vans

By Catherine Gewertz — April 25, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When small groups of students need transportation, large-size vans can be a more affordable choice than big yellow school buses. But those savings could come at a cost: Federal transportation-safety officials are warning that when heavily loaded, 15-passenger vans run a substantial risk of rolling over.

Vans that size carrying 10 or more people have a rollover rate more than three times higher than the rate of those that have five or fewer people aboard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement issued April 9. As the number of passengers increases, the vans’ center of gravity moves up and to the rear, making rollover more likely, NHTSA officials said.

The agency urged groups that use such vans to employ drivers who are experienced at operating large vans, and that they require riders to wear seat belts.

“For public schools, we think there are much safer modes of transportation available: school buses,” said NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson.

Under federal law, dealers can be prosecuted for selling 15-passenger vans for use for K-12 students. But many such sales go unnoticed, Mr. Tyson said, and the law applies only to dealers—not to those who buy the vehicles.

No prohibition governs their sale for use for postsecondary students. Last year, five college athletes died in five accidents in 15-passenger vans. Between 1993 and the end of 1999, 126 fatalities resulted from rollovers of such vans nationwide, Mr. Tyson said.

Two weeks ago, two of the vans—one carrying members of Utah State University’s men’s volleyball team and another carrying an Elko, Nev., church youth group—skidded in snowy conditions and rolled over. Thirteen people were injured.

Economics vs. Safety

The Denver school district owns five 12- or 15-passenger vans that teachers can rent for student trips, said Bob Morris, the manager of safety and training for the 71,000-student district’s transportation department. At $45 for each rental, they are easier on the wallet than a school bus, which rents for $80 or more, he said.

But the district is acutely aware of the safety issues, and officials are handing out articles about the NHTSA warning to those who rent the vans, he said. The district has not moved to eliminate the use of the vans, but Mr. Morris said he would favor such a move.

In Virginia, the Fairfax County school district owns 15-passenger vans, but uses them only to transport adults, said Tim Parker, the assistant director of transportation for the 160,000-student district. State regulations require schools to use vans that seat 10 or fewer when transporting students, he said.

Mr. Tyson said that while he is familiar with the financial issues around renting full-size buses for small groups, “at a certain point, there are things other than economics that need to be considered.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2001 edition of Education Week as Agency Issues Warning on Rollover Risk for Large Vans

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
Science K-12 Essentials Forum How To Teach STEM Problem Solving Skills to All K-12 Students
Join experts for a look at how experts are integrating the teaching of problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking into STEM instruction.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Principals: Supporting Your Teachers Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work
Principals can show teachers they care by something as simple as a visit to their classrooms or a pat on the back.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Nearly Half of Educators Say Climate Change Is Affecting Their Schools—or Will Soon
Most educators said their school districts have not taken any action to prepare for more severe weather, a new survey finds.
6 min read
Global warming illustration, environment pollution, global warming heating impact concept. Change climate concept.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Opinion 7 Ways Principals Can Support Teachers
Listening more than talking is one vital piece of advice for school leaders to help teachers.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management What Schools Can Do to Tackle Climate Change (Hint: More Than You Think)
For starters, don't assume change is too difficult.
7 min read
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox hold a sign together and chant while participating in a "Global Climate Strike" at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Across the globe hundreds of thousands of young people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit.
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox participate in a Global Climate Strike at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., in September 2019.
Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP