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15 Passenger Van Single-Vehicle Rollover Accidents, Henrietta, Texas, May 8, 2001, and Randleman, North Carolina, July 1, 2001
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Event Summary

Board Meeting : 15 Passenger Van Single-Vehicle Rollover Accidents, Henrietta, Texas, May 8, 2001, and Randleman, North Carolina, July 1, 2001
Washington, DC
7/15/2003 12:00 AM

Executive Summary

On May 8, 2001, about 8:57 a.m., central daylight time, a 1993 Dodge Ram 15-passenger van was eastbound on U.S. Route 82 near Henrietta, Texas, en route from Burkburnett, Texas, to an outlet mall in Gainesville, Texas. The driver and 11 passengers, all members of the First Assembly of God Church, occupied the van. As the vehicle approached milepost 538 in the left lane, at a calculated speed of 61 to 67 mph, the left rear tire experienced a tread separation and blowout; subsequently, the van departed the roadway and rolled over at least two times in the median, ejecting seven passengers before coming to final rest. The driver and three of the ejected passengers sustained fatal injuries, and eight passengers sustained serious injuries.

On July 1, 2001, about 2:30 p.m., eastern daylight time, a 1989 Dodge Ram 15-passenger van was northbound in the left lane on U.S. Route 220, near Randleman, North Carolina, en route from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Roanoke, Virginia. The van, owned by Virginia Heights Baptist Church of Roanoke, Virginia, was occupied by the driver and 13 passengers, ages 13 to 19. As the vehicle approached the Level Cross, North Carolina, exit, at a witness-estimated speed of 65 mph, the left rear tire experienced a tread separation and blowout; subsequently, the van moved from the left lane into the right lane, then back into the left lane, where it overturned and came to rest in the travel lanes. During the accident sequence, four passengers were ejected, one of whom was fatally injured and three of whom sustained serious injuries; the driver and the other nine passengers sustained injuries ranging from none to serious.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accidents was tire failure, the drivers' response to that failure, and the drivers' inability to maintain control of their vans. Contributing to the accidents was the deteriorated condition of the tires, as a result of the churches' lack of tire maintenance, and the handling characteristics of the vans. Contributing to the severity of the injuries was the lack of appropriate Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards applicable to 15-passenger vans in the areas of restraints and occupant protection.

The major safety issues discussed in this report are 15-passenger van classification, driver training, occupant protection, and tire condition, inspection, and maintenance.

As a result of its investigation of these accidents, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the 50 States and the District of Columbia, the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, the American Automobile Association, the National Safety Council, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation.

Recommendations

To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

In cooperation with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, revise your definitions of buses and commercial motor vehicles to apply consistently to 12- and 15-passenger vans, taking into account the unique operating characteristics and multiple functions of these vans. (H-03-12)

In cooperation with the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, the National Safety Council, the American Automobile Association, General Motors Corporation, and Ford Motor Company, develop a training program that incorporates the skills required for safe operation of 12- and 15-passenger vans and addresses the consequences of unsafe operation, including, but not limited to, operating in a fully loaded condition, emergency braking, high-speed lane changes, tire blowouts, and tire pressure and maintenance. (H-03-13)

Include 12- and 15-passenger vans in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 201, Section 6, "Requirements for Upper Interior Component Protection." (H-03-14)

Include 12- and 15-passenger vans in your upcoming rulemaking that will require lap/shoulder belts at all center seats. (H-03-15)

Include 12- and 15-passenger vans in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216, "Roof Crush Resistance," to minimize the extent to which survivable space is compromised in the event of a rollover accident. (H-03-16)

In developing long-term performance requirements for tire pressure monitoring systems, adopt more stringent detection standards than 25 or 30 percent below manufacturer-recommended levels, since pressures at those levels can have an adverse effect on the handling of vehicles, such as 12- and 15-passenger vans. (H-03-17)

To Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

In cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, revise your definitions of buses and commercial motor vehicles to apply consistently to 12- and 15-passenger vans, taking into account the unique operating characteristics and multiple functions of these vans. (H-03-18)

To the 50 States and the District of Columbia:

Establish a driver's license endorsement for 12- and 15-passenger vans that adopts the standards established by the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association; to obtain the endorsement, drivers should have to complete a training program on the operation of 12- and 15-passenger vans and pass a written and skills test. (H-03-19)

To Texas and Virginia:

Require that all passenger vehicle inspections include (1) tire pressure measurement and correction of any inflation deficiencies detected and (2) identification and failure of those tires that exhibit extensive weather checking and deterioration or that are not properly load-rated. (H-03-20)

To the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association:

In cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safety Council, the American Automobile Association, General Motors Corporation, and Ford Motor Company, develop a training program that incorporates the skills required for safe operation of 12- and 15-passenger vans and addresses the consequences of unsafe operation, including, but not limited to, operating in a fully loaded condition, emergency braking, high-speed lane changes, tire blowouts, and tire pressure and maintenance. (H-03-21)

To the American Automobile Association and the National Safety Council:

In cooperation with the American Driver and Traffic Safety Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and each other, develop a training program that incorporates the skills required for safe operation of 12- and 15-passenger vans and addresses the consequences of unsafe operation, including, but not limited to, operating in a fully loaded condition, emergency braking, high-speed lane changes, tire blowouts, and tire pressure and maintenance. (H-03-22)

To American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators:

Revise your Passenger Vehicles and Light Trucks Inspection Handbook to provide guidance on inspecting and failing tires for extensive weather checking or deterioration and on examining tires to ensure that they have the proper load rating. (H-03-23)

To Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation:

In cooperation with the American Driver and Traffic Safety Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safety Council, the American Automobile Association, and each other, develop a training program that incorporates the skills required for safe operation of 12- and 15-passenger vans and addresses the consequences of unsafe operation, including, but not limited to, operating in a fully loaded condition, emergency braking, high-speed lane changes, tire blowouts, and tire pressure and maintenance. (H-03-22)

Voluntarily develop and install technologies to provide upper interior component protection within 12- and 15-passenger vans by model year 2006. (H-03-24)

Voluntarily install lap/shoulder belts at all center seating positions in 12- and 15-passenger vans and make all lap/shoulder belts in outboard and center seating positions adjustable by model year 2006. (H-03-25)

Redesign the seat belts in your 12- and 15-passenger vans to ensure that the buckle and latch components remain readily accessible to occupants at all times by model year 2006. (H-03-26)

Voluntarily redesign 12- and 15-passenger vans to minimize the extent to which survivable space is compromised in the event of a rollover accident by model year 2006. (H-03-27)


 


 

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