Mothers’ Work to Advance 15 Passenger Van Safety Was, and Still Is, Needed

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Victory of Caring Mothers Isabelle Hains & Stella Gurr

Mothers who lost sons in 15 Passenger Van crashes explain the significance of their success in changing Canadian law. “The mothers say the introduction of the new definition provides school boards, commercial bus operators and the general public with an alternate choice of vehicle that offers a similar high safety standard as a yellow school bus.

Many school districts across Canada still use 15-passenger vans. The mothers are concerned that this may continue unless all the provinces and territories decide to use only yellow school buses and MFSAB’s to transport students to after school activities. 

Prohibiting the use of 15-passenger vans for extra curricular activities is a provincial/territorial responsibility. They are asking for a mandatory Van Angels law across Canada that permits only yellow school buses or Multifunction School Activity Buses for students participating in after school activities.

“Like many other Canadians I knew nothing about the serious safety concerns associated with 15 passenger vans until my son was killed,” says Hains. “I had to educate myself and had to push and fight for changes to safe student transportation.”

Hains says “Parents with children in the school system need to know there is now an alternative to 15 passenger vans that is built to the high yellow school bus standard.”

Gurr adds that with the new definition there should be no confusion when consumers want to be sure that they are purchasing a type of vehicle that meets very strict US and Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a school bus body build.

“It will be clearly identified on the vehicle certification label; ‘School Bus’ or ‘MFSAB’,” says Stella Gurr….”  

“Since 2010 the Van Angel mothers has managed to accomplish a review of the 15-passenger van for student transportation and national distribution of a brochure called Safety Guidelines for the use of 15-Passenger Vans, as well as the introduction of the MFSAB in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.”  See


The years of efforts to prevent tragedies by the VanAngels are still needed because 15 Passenger Vans continue to transport students and church groups.  As shown in the 60 Minutes video the rollover dangers are real and major.
Tragedies Will Continue Hundreds of thousands of 15 Passenger Vans are still on the U.S. roads (564,000 vehicles in 2007 see attached NHTSA report 811143). Additional resources are as follows:

As weather turns warmer and worn tires fail Americans will suffer more tragic fatal and permanently injurious 15 Passenger Van crashes in the U.S.  
NHTSA Needs To Do More and Better
At the very least, NHTSA should issue a public education warning now on 15 Passenger Vans.  NHTSA could create a PSA video and go further than their Advisory issued 3 years ago.  See
NHTSA needs to be more specific in its Advisory.  NHTSA must make it actionable not vague.   *  No more than 9 passengers is more actionable than “Vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating”. *  Tires no older than 3 years is more actionable than “Replace old tires. Check the vehicle owner’s manual for correct size.”
*   Drivers should have commercial licenses is more actionable than Driver should be well trained and experienced”.
*   Limit Driving Time to 3 hours to prevent Drowsy Driving is more actionable than Rest well. Fatigue can affect driving and response time”.
NHTSA should publish fatalities in 15 passenger vans every year by auto maker to spur corporate competition to advance safety.
DOT can help States post warnings on electronic highway signs.  NHTSA should publish fatalities involving 15 passenger vans by State and by year.  Many will be in Red States where climate is hotter and tire failures occur more often.  This is important to get more bi-partisan support in Congress.
Congressional support, direction and oversight are necessary, but not always sufficient, for safety progress.  See
Note the number of people who died in Rollover crashes and recognize that NHTSA supported GM’s funding of CDC to remove “Rollover and Extrication” from the triage guidelines.  See

NHTSA can and must do better protecting Americans now, please.
If NHTSA does not do so, people and their representatives should ask: What is holding NHTSA back?


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