15-Passenger Van Safety and Operation
The University of Florida adopted a policy whose objective is to reduce the risk of accident and possible injury or death associated with the operation of 15-passenger vans. Risk reduction is achieved through assurance that vans will only be operated by safe and knowledgeable drivers, that vans are in proper and safe working order, and that all passengers use passenger restraint systems when the vehicle is in operation
Studies conducted by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) of the US Department of Transportation reveal that loaded 15-passenger vans have significantly higher risk of rollover than passenger cars and light trucks. Loading the vans raises the center of gravity and shifts it towards the rear, greatly affecting the handling characteristics. When heavily loaded, the steering characteristics and responsiveness are very different from light passenger vehicles. This can cause serious consequences in an emergency situation when an untrained driver expects the vehicle to respond like a car.
Driving large vans requires skill and experience from the operator with little or no margin of error. The vehicles must also be in proper working order to reduce the likelihood of involvement in an accident. The vehicles must receive a formal operational inspection by the operator to demonstrate due diligence. Each vehicle must undergo an annual inspection by a mechanic to ensure hidden defects are identified that could contribute to the risk of vehicle accident.
The requirements and policies to address these concerns were distributed via DDD distribution on September 9, 2001.
License Check and Review
Applicants must complete the Employee Data Sheet and submit it to Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) at PO Box 112190. EH&S will coordinate the license check with the review agency. Drivers with out-of-state licenses shall complete and sign page two of the data sheet. Drivers with three or more moving violations in the three-year review period shall not be permitted to operate 15-passenger vans. EH&S will provide results of the check to the requesting department with a letter stating the outcome of the review. EH&S bears the costs associated with the license check and review.
Drivers not possessing a commercial driver license must participate in a driver training program approved by the University. Additional training may be required by departments if special skills are required (e.g. pulling a trailer). Copies of training records must be maintained by the department.
The training is available through successful completion of an in-house computer-based training program at EH&S, Building 179. Please call Laura Tennant at (352) 392-1591 to schedule an appointment. The training is offered Thursdays and Fridays and each 3-hour training slot is limited to one individual.
Each vehicle must be included in the annual Safety Inspection performed by the Physical Plant Division (PPD) Motor Pool or for non-Alachua County facilities by a local mechanic using PPD inspection criteria. Fifteen-passenger vans may not be equipped with roof racks. At a minimum, vans used for long trips (e.g. greater than 100 miles roundtrip) must receive an operational inspection by the driver before each trip. The PPD Motor Pool can provide a pre-trip check upon request and appointment. Vans used primarily on campus/locally must be inspected each time the vehicle is refueled. The driver should use the Inspection Log to document the inspection process.
All vehicle occupants must use seat belts. On long trips the number of approved drivers should match the expected trip duration to prevent driver fatigue and inattention. No single driver should drive more than eight hours in a single day.