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Tips before you travel

Seven safety recommendations for church vans

Fifteen-passenger vans are common and convenient for churches. They can be an extension of your ministry to serve others. But without proper precautions, maintenance or handling, these vans can present risks to your ministry.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research has shown that "15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases threefold when there are 10 or more occupants. And that about two-thirds of passenger van fatalities occurred in rollover crashes." Here are some ways to make your van safer:

  • Under pressure. Check the tire pressure before hitting the road. Your owner's manual will tell you where to find the recommended amount.
  • Spare tire. Make sure to buy a new tire, not a used tire. New-looking, unused tires weaken with age and can be dangerous.
  • Experienced drivers only. Choose experienced drivers with a few more years under their belt. The driver should be trained and know how to handle a 15-passenger van.
  • Sit at attention. Drivers should be well rested and should drive no more than eight hours. Implement a distraction-free zone: no cell phones or loud music, etc.
  • Caution: overload. The van is longer, higher and wider than a smaller passenger vehicle. Overloading a van with cargo and passengers affects the center of gravity and increases the chances for rollover.
  • Buckle up. Everyone has to have a seatbelt. Don’t carry more than 15 people. "Nearly 80% of those who died in passenger van rollovers were not wearing safety belts," according to the NHTSA.
  • Check it. Before the rubber meets the road, inspect your vehicle using this pre-trip checklist.

Related articles: Learn how to keep your volunteer drivers safe while they are traveling for church-related reasons. It’s important because your ministry could be at risk if that volunteer has an accident in his or her own vehicle. Also, find out about vehicle accidents: the common causes and how to avoid them.


This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate policies and procedures for your church’s risk management program.