The Best Solution:
ATTENTION TEENAGERS AND COLLEGE AGE STUDENTS!
This is one time when just saying NO is the best solution.
Refuse to get in a 15-passenger van! The event organizers will ask you why. Tell them the dangers of the vans that are highlighted on Van Angels start page. Better yet, have them visit this website for themselves. You will start a chain reaction inside the organization that owns the van (i.e church, missions group, university, etc.) and the van will ultimately get parked until they resolve the controversy. Believe me, they will provide alternative transportation.
1) Trash of your 15-passenger van
Quite frankly, this is the best solution. The most common van, the Ford E-350 (a.k.a. Super Club Wagon) was originally designed as a cargo van. It handles poorly, has no roof-crush resistance, weak side impact resistance, poor weight distribution, and almost no rollover resistance. If you do decide to sell, you will probably get much less than Blue Book for your vehicle because insurance companies are starting to deny coverage because of the high rate of fatal accident claims.
If you sell your van, you will only get pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, another non-profit or family with lots of kids will most likely buy it from you. In the beginning, they will think that they got a “steal” because of the ridiculously low purchase price. Eventually, they will figure out how dangerous the van is and end up blaming you for sticking them with the problem van. Hopefully, they’ll learn this before they are involved in a rollover accident, otherwise, you will become a defendant in a lawsuit.
2) Charter a Bus
After you’ve trashed your van, you should consider hiring a charter bus and letting a professional take care of the driving. The extra cost will be well worth it. It’s also a lot more fun for the passengers to travel together in one vehicle.
If your group isn’t that large, you can always charter a smaller bus. In you decide to drive it yourself, you will need a commercial drivers license. That requirement is for your own safety.
3) Consider buying a fleet of mini-vans
YWAM in Kona, HI had a fleet of ten 15-passenger vans. They researched the usage, the cost of ownership (fuel, maintenance, purchase price, resale value, etc.). They concluded that a fleet of 15 mini-vans were significantly more cost effective than a fleet of ten 15-passenger vans. According to SaferCar.gov 5-star rating system, mini-vans, such as the 2008 Honda Odyssey get a 4-star rating compared to the 2008 Ford E-350.
NOTE: Ford E-350 vehicles were never rated prior to 2006. In 2006, Ford added electronic stabilizer, which increased stability. Prior to 2006, Ford would have failed every single rollover test.
4) Add dual-rear wheels to an existing van
A report by Public Citizen called Stopping Rollovers – The Dual Rear Wheel Solution for 15-Passenger Vans , describes the benefits of putting dual rear wheels on 15-passenger vans. Existing vans can be retrofitted with dual rear-wheels for approximately $2100. The procedure is detailed on our website under Dual rear-wheels. Adding dual rear-wheels increases stability and provides redundancy in the event of a rear-tire failure. The majority of van rollovers involve a driver’s side rear tire failure.
- 15-seater vans sold in Europe require dual-rear wheels. Dual wheels on the rear of the van will help prevent rollover accidents