During Tire Safety Week, May 24-30, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding all vehicle owners about the importance of tire safety. As the summer driving season begins, NHTSA advises operators of 15-passenger vans to follow proper tire maintenance to avoid potentially deadly crashes.
Tire safety is especially important for 15-passenger van users. Unlike passenger vehicles, 15-passenger vans, which are often used by summer camps, youth groups, and religious organizations, are substantially longer and taller than most light vehicles. These factors may increase the chance of a rollover crash if operators do not conduct routine safety checks and follow proper tire maintenance. The potential for multiple serious injuries or deaths in crashes involving these vehicles makes them an area of special concern.
Between 2004 and 2013, 653 Americans died in crashes while riding in 15-passenger vans – an average of 65 occupants per year, according to NHTSA data. Nearly 60 percent of fatalities in these crashes were in vehicles that rolled over. Making sure these vehicles are equipped with tires of the correct size and load rating which are correctly inflated will help reduce the chance of a rollover crash.
It is also important for operators to remember that tires degrade over time, even if the tread is not worn down. Therefore, older spare tires should not be used as replacement tires. Tips for proper tire maintenance can be found on NHTSA's TireWise website.
NHTSA recommends the following safety tips:
- If you are a passenger, make sure you buckle up for every trip.
- If you are a driver, before every trip, check the tires for proper inflation, and make sure there are no signs of wear or damage. Correct tire size and inflation pressure information can be found in the owner's manual and on the driver's side door pillar.
- Never overload the vehicle.
- Never drink and drive.
- If you are an owner, make sure the vehicle is regularly maintained.
- Owners should have suspension and steering components inspected according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule and replace or repair these parts as necessary.
- Owners should ensure that vehicles are equipped with properly sized and load-rated tires.
- Owners should follow manufacturer guidance on when to replace tires, including your spare . Learn how to determine the age of your tires.
- Owners should also make sure drivers are properly licensed and experienced in operating a 15-passenger van.