4 Simple Steps for Passenger Van Safety

Author, Sam Brown, Vice President, Human Services Group, Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc.


Many of our agency's social service and nonprofit clients serve an important function for individuals and families...transportation! Whether helping a physically challenged child get to school or embarking on a day trip to the mall with a group of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it's vital to manage all risks associated with transporting clients.

This article outlines important driver safety guidelines. You will also learn safety tips and the factors contributing to rollovers with large passenger vans.

Start from Day 1

Ensure all new hires receive a driver safety orientation. Make sure they understand the organization's safety policies as well as processes tied to safety. This must include volunteers who may perform driving duties for the organization. 

Employee Screening and Incident Reports

Require new hire candidates to submit a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) with the employment application, while also checking MVRs periodically. Candidates and employees who don't meet your insurance company's driver guidelines, or pose a liability to the organization, can be restricted from driving or be required to complete additional driver training. It is also a best practice to formalize an accident reporting and investigation process. 

Establish a Written Driver Safety Policy

Document the organization's culture of safety and the need to protect clients, employees, and volunteers while on the road. Include a code of conduct with regards to seat belt use, driving while under the influence, distracted driving, incident reporting, and vehicle maintenance. 

Understand the Risks of Passenger Vans

Large passenger vans, such as 15-passenger vans, are at a high risk of rollover. 

Contributing factors

  • Number of occupants: vehicles with less than 10 passengers are three times less likely to rollover
  • Speed: The odds of rollover are 5x greater when traveling on high speed roads (+50mph)
  • Road curvature: The odds of rolling over double on curved roads vs. straight roads
  • Tire inflation: An NHTSA study found that 74% of 15-passenger vans have at least one tire underinflated by 25% or more. Underinflated tires are at a higher risk of blowout.

Safety Tips

  • Never allow more passengers than allotted seats. Fill seats from front to back of the vehicle if you have open seats.
  • Only allow experienced and trained drivers to operate 15-passenger vans.
  • Load cargo forward of the rear axle to enhance stability and control.
  • Inspect vehicles for wear and tire pressure. Maintain an accurate log.
  • Replace tires on a regular basis
  • Keep the vehicle within the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

The risk associated with transporting clients is important to recognize and manage. With close attention to safety and written procedures any social service or nonprofit organization can successfully help move around town. Be safe out there.

For more information about transportation safety, contact Rancho Mesa Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 937-0164.

Safety is Not a Luxury: Understanding the Risks of Passenger Vans, https://www.nonprofitrisk.org/app/uploads/2016/12/1222-NRM-16-Summer-Newsletter-D3
Before You Hit the Road: Stepping Stones of Driver Safety, https://www.nonprofitrisk.org/resources/articles/before-you-hit-the-road-stepping-stones-of-driver-safety/