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TAXI VANS ALERT NO CAUSE FOR ALARM LOCALLY

May 22, 2002 – Although Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department spokeswoman Tanya Marie Singh said she knows of no taxi van accidents due to rollovers, the department is letting drivers know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a cautionary warning.
NHTSA research has shown that 14- and 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases from fewer than five to more than 10. When carrying 10 or more passengers, such vans had a rollover rate in single-vehicle crashes nearly three times the rate of those that carrying few people.
The NHTSA issued some safety guidelines, including the obvious caveat that only trained and experienced drivers should operate such vehicles.
All occupants should wear seat belts at all times. the agency said, citing these statistics:
– Of those killed in rollovers of such vans nationwide in 2000, 80 percent did not have on seat belts.
– In fatal, single-vehicle rollovers involving such vans over the last decade, 92 percent of belted occupants survived, compared with 23 percent of unbelted occupants.
Sherman Chinnery, secretary at the East End Taxi Association on St. Thomas, said that he had heard of the warning, but like Singh, knows of no accidents in the territory in which vans have rolled over. "Even when the car went out of control, I can't remember them flipping," he said. He suggested that the higher speeds on mainland roads and highways may contribute to the problem.

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