As we head into the summer months, it is important to keep in mind the effects that heat and group travel can have on vehicle and passenger safety. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation announced this month and summarized below will focus on two of the most prevalent safety hazards – unsafe tires and the rollover potential of 15-passenger vans.
Based on my experience handling cases that involve tire failure and rollovers, it is apparent that many factors can contribute to crashes like these.
- Problems with heat resistance and aging in tires are known problems in the tire manufacturing industry and result in too many preventable crashes – particularly in southern states during the summer months.
- Due to their narrow design and high center of gravity, 15-passenger vans are notorious for their instability and rollover risk, especially when being used for their chief purpose – transporting groups.
- The deadly combination of an inherently unstable vehicle, like a 15-passenger van, on defective or aged tires is a recipe for disaster.
Whether you’re traveling in a passenger van to your team’s summer sporting event or heading to camp with your church group, remember that a little knowledge and vigilance can help get you there safely.
NTSB Investigating Fatal Crash of Church Van Involving Previously Recalled Tire (3/14/14)
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a fatal highway crash of a church van in Florida involving the catastrophic failure of a tire that was part of a July 2012 product recall. The tire, a two-year-old BFGoodrich Commercial T/A A/S, was part of a product recall initiated by BFGoodrich for approximately 794,000 tires typically found on commercial light trucks and full size heavy-duty vans.
The safety recall notice sent to tire owners in July 2012 stated that “it is possible that any one of the tires being recalled may experience tread loss and/or rapid air loss resulting from tread belt separation. This condition may increase the risk of a vehicle crash.”
The crash occurred on Interstate 75 in Lake City, FL, on February 21 when the driver lost control of a 2002 Ford E350 XLT 15-passenger van after the tread separated from the left rear tire. The van rolled over and two adults and two juveniles were ejected from the vehicle. The two ejected adults died. The remaining occupants, one adult and seven children, were all injured.
The NTSB will be examining the tire and reviewing the effectiveness of the product recall process to determine if the First Baptist Church ever received the safety recall notice.
The NTSB is also investigating a February 15 multiple-fatality crash near Centerville, Louisiana, involving a failed tire. Although the tire involved, a 10-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain, was not the subject of a product recall, it also experienced a tread separation that led to a loss of control.
The failed tires involved in both accidents will undergo a laboratory analysis to identify the factors involved in the tread separations.