Rollover prevention tips and safe operating guidelines

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Multi-passenger vans do not operate like automobiles

  • Height of vehicle increases rollover potential
  • Length of vehicle increases stopping distance
  • Width of vans is NOT a significant enough factor to improve the safety of the vehicle

Center of gravity and rollover potential

  • The higher the center of gravity the more prone a vehicle is to rollover hazards
  • Center of gravity for vans varies depending on several factors
    • Center of gravity is higher due to shape and size
    • Center of gravity rises with passenger weight or equipment
    • Normal vehicle center of gravity is at bumper height providing stability
  • When a van is filled to capacity the center or gravity can be as high as the steering wheel!
  • Quick maneuvers such as turns, striking curbs, veering off pavement, and over compensating all commonly result in van rollover accidents
  • High center of gravity = compromised stability

Importance of tire pressure

  • Proper tire pressure is the most important part of maintaining tires
  • Under inflation and overloading are major causes of tire failure
  • Purchase an accurate tire pressure gauge
  • Inspect tires regularly, at least once a month for overall condition and irregular wear
  • Observe tire pressure and vehicle load limits
  • You can’t tell if tires are properly inflated by just looking at them

Road run off hazards

  • Rural roads have higher drops off the side leading to more rollovers
  • Fatigued drivers drift off the road
  • Over-correcting for running off road results in rollover
  • Practice attentive and non-distracted driving
  • Maintain appropriate travel speed for the conditions
  • Avoid driving when tired or impaired by drugs or alcohol

Avoiding rollovers during a panic situation

  • Take your foot off the gas
  • Avoid sudden braking
  • Allow gradual slowing from gravity
  • Do not turn the steering wheel sharply
  • Minor damage suffered from leaving the roadway is okay compared to the potential seriousness of a rollover accident

Turning tips

  • Left turns
    • Begin turning farther forward into the intersection to allow for the longer length of the van
    • Be sure to allow extra room in the intersection so as you turn, the longer van length will not strike other vehicles waiting to enter from the left
  • Right turns
    • Prevent the right rear tire from hitting the curb by approaching the intersection from the left side of the right lane
    • Turn on your turn signal early
    • Check your mirrors frequently

Backing safely

  • If possible, plan ahead to park where backing will not be necessary
  • When backing, if possible, back towards to driver’s side
  • If in a difficult backing situation, try to use a spotter
  • Use mirrors frequently
  • Perform the backing maneuver slowly

Passenger safety

  • Always park on level surface when loading and unloading passengers
  • Provide assistance if special needs exist
  • When unloading children, perform a full inspection of the van to make sure no passengers remain when exiting
  • Always verify numbers of children

Parking considerations

  • Try to park in a manner that allows you to leave by pulling forward rather than backing out
  • It is better to back into a parking space after you arrive at a destination rather than backing out when you are leaving
  • Set the parking brake as a matter of habit
  • Always place the gear in the park position
  • Turn off electrical accessories
  • Close windows
  • Remove the keys and lock the doors

Mirror use

  • Adjust mirrors before starting vehicle
  • Have a passenger assist if necessary
  • Side mirrors help reduce blind spots but do not completely eliminate them in some cases
  • Scan rear-view mirror and side mirrors every 5 to 10 seconds while driving
  • Proper mirror usage reduces panic responses which lead to rollover accidents

General safe driving tips

  • Nothing is more important than safe arrival at your destination
  • Plan ahead to avoid late departures which lead to unsafe driving habits
  • Always wear your seat belt and make sure passengers are wearing seatbelts before you leave
  • Practice courteous driving and yield to other traffic when safe to do so

Poor weather conditions

  • Consider postponing trip if possible
  • Reduce speed in rain, fog, snow, or ice conditions
  • Increase your viewing distance ahead to include several vehicles,  not just the one immediately in front of you
  • Windy conditions can create increased rollover potential for 15 passenger vans – be aware of wind from weather and sudden gusts from passing trucks

Avoid driving impaired

  • Know when it is not safe for you to be driving
  • Fatigue and lack of sleep cause inattention to driving, delayed response to circumstances, and falling asleep at the wheel
  • Alcohol or drug use causes inattention to driving, faulty decision making, and delayed responses

Common driver distractions to control or avoid

  • Cell phone use
    • Have passengers make calls if possible
    • Safely stop vehicle before calling out
    • Avoid answering incoming calls while driving
  • Maps and directions
    • Study directions prior to departure
    • Stop in a safe place if lost or you need to refresh directions
    • Utilize passengers to help if possible
  • Food
    • Should be consumed when stopped, before leaving, or after arriving
  • Unfamiliar equipment
    • Radio should be pre-set before leaving
    • Learn lights, blinkers, emergency flashers, emergency brake, and air/heat controls before leaving


  • Driver attention to safety is the most important factor in avoiding accidents
  • NHTSA strongly encourages continued training for drivers of 15 passenger vans to reduce rollover accidents
  • More passengers increases the risk of rollover accidents
  • If you feel uncomfortable with driving 15 passenger vans, enroll in a professional training course


  • Markel Specialty
  • Office of Insurance Management, Idaho Department of Administration
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • For additional passenger van safety resources, visit the following link from the U.S. Department of Transportation

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