Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Van Angels?
Van Angels is an organization that is dedicated to providing education on the safety of 15-passenger vans.
Are 15-passengers illegal for transporting school children?
The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), congressional highway bill bans the illicit purchase of 15-passenger vans by public school districts. Fines range from $10,000 for the first offense up to $15 million. Private and parochial schools, day care facilities and colleges and universities are not affected. Some schools still use the non-conforming vans to transport teachers and staff.
What makes 15-passenger vans so dangerous?
15-passenger vans were originally designed as cargo vans. When you put people in them, these vans become increasingly unstable. According to Ford’s internal documents, the risk of rollover in a 15-passenger van (ie. Ford E-350) increases by 200% with 5 passengers and increase by 300% with 10 or more passengers. In a fully loaded 15-passenger van, the weight is NOT evenly distributed. In fact, almost 50% of the weight is distributed in the lower left quadrant of the van, which is why the left-rear tire fails in the vast majority of 15-passenger van accidents.
Does Van Angels sell anything or provide financial assistance?
Van Angels is an educational website. We do not sell vans or van parts of any kind, nor do we provide financial assistance to those who wish to retrofit their vans. We do, however, have a list of companies that provide services and products in this market.
No. The bad publicity of 15-passenger vans has caused Ford to start marketing the E-350 van as a 12-passenger vehicle. In reality, its the same 15-passenger van with reconfigured seats. Folks, that’s just plain deception. Check out Ford’s E-350 extended cab options. They sell the extended length van with 12-seat options. It’s still an E-350, which has the highest risk of rollover of any vehicle on the market today!
Does removing the back seat make the van safer?
Removing the back seat from a 15-passenger van does NOTHING to improve the safety of the van. Many insurance companies require owners to remove the back seat. The back seat is located behind the rear axle of the vehicle. They theorize that eliminating this weight will increase the vans stability. In reality, eliminating the back seat still leaves room for 11 passengers. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s research, the rollover risk increases by over 300% when 10 or more passengers are sitting in the van. In addition, if you fully utilize the remaining seats, you will still place 45% of the passenger load on the left-rear wheel. Thus, you will NOT eliminate the problems associated with left rear tire detreads/blowouts. Finally, most organizations simply use the added space to store luggage, therefore, they are NOT decreasing the overall weight in the vehicle. Let me repeat, REMOVING THE BACK SEAT DOES NOTHING TO IMPROVE THE SAFETY OF THE VAN!!
What about limiting the number of passengers to nine (9)?
As stated above, the rollover risk increases by 300% when 10 or more passengers are seated in a 15-passenger van. When 9 passengers are seated, the risk is over 200%, but less than 300%. As you will read on this website, the biggest issue is the de-tread of the left rear tire. This is caused by excessive weight on the left rear tire, which can occur with nine passengers.
What about US Government warnings?
The federal National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) has issued several warnings about the rollover risk of 15-passenger vans.
Several U.S. states have banned the use of 15-passenger vans to transport elementary and high-school age children. This varies on a state-by-state basis.
The Canadian government requires a commercial drivers license to transport 10 or people in any vehicle, which would include 15-passenger vans.
Is Retrofitting a van with dual-rear wheels the best option?
No. The best solution is to replace existing 15-passenger vans with alternative transportation. However, retrofitting existing vans with dual rear-wheels will significantly decrease the rollover risk to 15-seater vans. Ford owns 80% of the 15-passenger van market. The Ford E-350 line of vans is one of the most profitable vehicles for Ford. There are approximately 500,000 15-passenger vans on the road, of which 400,000 are manufactured by Ford. Assuming they could retrofit these vans for $1000 each, the cost would be $400 million. Quite frankly, it’s been cheaper for Ford to to settle lawsuits than to fix the problem.