Authorities stopped 149 vans and station wagons during a recent crackdown on 7-D pupil transport vehicles, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation reported.
While our Boston personal injury attorneys have highlighted the risks associated with Massachusetts school bus accidents, traffic accidents involving vans or other vehicles used by daycare centers, churches and other organizations get less attention.
However, they can be even more dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a warning regarding the use of 15-passenger vans after two horrific crashes in New York and Georgia involving church vehicles. While schools are forbidden from purchasing the vans to transport students, numerous smaller organizations rely upon them for transport.
The government is particularly concerned about the use of older tires on such vehicles, which can lead to blowouts and rollover accidents. The upcoming winter driving season also increases the risk of an accident caused by poor tires.
During the recent investigation, dubbed “Operation Guardian Angel,” authorities set up nine safety checkpoints in Boston and issued 123 violation, including $5,350 in fines. Infractions included driving without the required 7-D license, vehicle equipment defects, including bald tires, overloading passengers and failure to not properly secure children in car seats or seat belts.
“The RMV has many responsibilities, but none more important than keeping this most vulnerable population safe,” said Registrar Rachel Kaprielian. “We need to assure parents that their children are riding in safe vehicles with properly trained drivers. But parents can help by being vigilant and asking tough questions.”
Drivers of 7-D vehicles must undergo criminal background checks and apply for special licenses. Vehicles, including cargo vans and station wagons, must undergo inspection twice a year.
7-D drivers are also subject to a fine of up to $500 for using a mobile telephone while driving with passengers, thanks to the state’s new distracted driving law, which took effect. Sept. 30.
The government provides the following safety tips for vans and passenger vehicles used in transport:
-Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained.
-Drivers must be properly trained and licensed.
-Overloading should be avoided. Even loading can reduce the risk of a rollover accident.
-Tires should be properly inflated and in good repair.
-Drivers should check tires for proper inflation, and for signs of wear, before each trip.
-Passengers should wear their seat belts.