A horrific accident resulted in two fatalities when all eleven passengers were ejected from a 2004 Ford Econoline E-350 van after it flipped over. The accident occurred over this past weekend on I-95 in Massachusetts. The van was carrying a Polish American tour group with passengers from New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. The van was heading north, approximately 40 minutes from Boston, when it was struck by a Toyota Rav4 and the vehicles entered the median, where the Econoline van rolled over. The nine surviving occupants sustained serious injuries.
In April 2001, NHTSA issued a Consumer Advisory on 15-passenger van safety. 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 ten. 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 had fewer than five occupants. Additionally, Federal Regulations do not require these types of vans to have advanced airbags and Ford did not start including advanced airbags in its Ford Econoline E-350 vans until 2007. Consequently, the victims of the accident in Massachusetts did not have this known safety feature to help protect them, because the Ford van they were travelling in was manufactured in 2004.
Despite the dangers associated with 15-passenger vans, their use continues to be widespread as over 500,000 are registered in the United States. Unfortunately, this means that tragic accidents like the one last weekend in Massachusetts will continue to occur.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an accident involving a 15-passenger van, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-231-9360 or toll free at 1‑800-594-4884.