15-Passenger Van Safety (such as It Is)
As I highlighted in the Chevy Express review, I believe the vehicle is inherently unsafe. The Ford E-Series and Dodge Ram Van (RIP: 2002), aren't much better. From 1990 to 2006, over 2700 people have died in extended van accidents, they majority of which were rollovers (seat belt use is an important variable). In 2002, The National Transportation Safety Board wrote an open letter to Bill Ford and Rick Wagoner, stating "Heavily loaded 15-passenger vans are particularly susceptible to rollover… Simulations conducted for the NHTSA research illustrated the adverse effects that a fully loaded 15-passenger van can have on the vehicles handling properties and rollover propensity. Fully loading or nearly loading a 15-passenger van causes the center of gravity to move rearwardand upward, which increases the vehicles rollover propensity and could increase the potential for driver loss of control in emergency maneuvers." Ford and GM declined to make a $300m (per design) modification to the rear end to enhance van safety. They did, however, add stability control systems, as requested. While NHTSA stats show the accident and fatality rate for these vehicles are falling, it's still proportionately higher than for other passenger vehicles. Both the Ford and Chevy score a measly two and three stars respectively in roll-over tendency. These are outmoded designs whose active safety is woeful inadequate– especially when you consider their cargo.
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