The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) makes special reference on its website to 15-passenger vans and school use. In response to a letter from the Iowa Department of Education, the NHTSA noted that federal law specifically states that dealers may only sell or lease certified school buses that will be â€śused significantlyâ€ť for school transportation and has a seating capacity of 11 or more. The NHTSA is the governing body that enforces these rules.
This statute has proven to be confusing for many people, including apparently state departmental agencies. Many people have interpreted the law to mean that schools, school boards, or private busing companies cannot use 12- and 15-passenger vans to transport children to and from school. This is true, but the rules also extend beyond those directly associated with schools.
In the letter, the NHTSA specifically addresses the case of a day care facility. This facility does not drop children off at school, but it does pick them up and brings them to the day care five days per week. Even though the day care provides this as a service that is not directly connected to the school system, it still falls under the law as â€śsignificant useâ€ť for school transportation. In other words, it doesnâ€™t matter if the day care does not drop off students, or even if it is part of the school board. It is still providing transportation for school-age children from a school, and therefore must meet the same requirements.
The NHTSA also notes that the vehicle dealer would be breaking the regulations by selling or leasing any non-conforming vehicle, and could be held directly liable.
What makes the law even more confusing is that although the federal government has set out basic codes, the states are largely left to work out the details. As a result, every state has a different set of laws regulating the transportation of children to and/or from school. In Texas for example, school buses must be used on routes that carry 10 or more passengers. However, schools do not have to use school buses as transportation for activities (such as school trips) unless there are more than 15 passengers. Therefore, there are instances where children in Texas may ride in the dangerous 15-passenger vans â€“ and parents may not even know about it.
Regardless of the â€śletter of the law,â€ť 15-passenger vans have been proven to be one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road for a number of reasons including its high risk of rollover, its difficult handling especially at higher speeds, and the fact that seat belt use is lower. Its flawed design makes it a poor â€“ and potentially deadly â€“ choice of transportation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a 15-passenger van or any other motor vehicle, contact the personal injury experts at Jim S. Adler & Associates. We will give you a free case review and let you know your rights â€“ and help you protect them. Auto manufacturers are entirely responsible for the safety of their vehicles, and too often their negligence results in catastrophic injury. If you have been an unfortunate victim, Jim S. Adler & Associates will make sure you get the compensation you deserve.