Vans, in particular 15-passenger vans, have been the subject of much public discussion and scrutiny since the U.S. National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, or NHTSA, issued reports that these vehicles pose serious safety risks. As a result, Florida and several other states have enacted legislation restricting the use of such vehicles in transporting public school students.
According to the NHTSA, 15-passenger vans are difficult to control in emergencies, are more prone to rollover accidents because they have a higher center of gravity, and lack adequate crash protection for occupants. Between 1990 and 2002, crashes killed 1,111 people in 15-passenger vans, according to the agency's figures.
List of 15-Passenger Vans
Before the NHTSA proclamations outlined above, 15-passenger vans were widely used for student transportation by public and private schools throughout Florida. The list of 15-passenger vans currently in operation in the United States includes the Ford Econoline E350, the Ford Club Wagon E350, the Chevrolet Express 3500, the Dodge Ram Van/Wagon B3500, Dodge Ram Wagon B350, the GMC Savana G3500 and the GMC Rally/Vandura G3500.
Section 1006.22 of Florida Statutes sets forth the guideline for vehicles that can be used to transport public students in that state. The primary category of approved vehicles is school buses. However, public schools may also use other vehicles to transport students, if those vehicles weren't designed to carry more than 10 passengers and if they meet federal safety standards. Students being transported in a vehicle other than a school bus must be in designated seating positions and must wear seat belts at all times during transport.
Although section 1006.22 of Florida Statutes does not specifically ban the use of 15-passenger vans to transport public school students, 15-passenger vans do not meet the guidelines for transportation of public school students in the Florida. As a result, public preschools, primary and secondary schools in Florida are prohibited from using 15-passenger vans to transport students. Note that section 1006.22 does not apply to private schools or companies that contract directly with parents for student transportation.
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