The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is set to reissue ayear-old consumer warning on the rollover risk due to overloading of 15-passenger vans, according to the Detroit Free Press
.In a morning press conference on April 15 in Washington, D.C., the federal agency is expected to say the popular vans are safe,but that additional caution should be used when operating them.The government may also recommend warning stickers to be put in the vans telling drivers about the rollover risks.NHTSA research has shown that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10. In fact, 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly three times the rate of those that were lightly loaded.Among the NHTSA recommendations: 15-passenger vans should be operated by trained, experienced drivers and occupants should wear seat belts at all times. Eighty percent of those who died in 15-passenger van rollovers nationwide in the year 2000 were not buckled up.NHTSA has reissued the advisory to specifically alert summertime users of 15-passenger vans. The agency is considering the potential benefits of an additional compulsory warning label about rollover and seat belt use that would be visible to the driver and passengers of 15-passenger vans, respectively.United States federal law prohibits the sale of 15-passenger vans for school-related transport of high school age and younger students but no such prohibition exists for vehicles to transport college students, company employees or other passengers.