Let’s forget about barbers and talk about church vans. Yesterday, six people were killed and seven were seriously injured in a rollover accident on the NYS Thruway when their church van blew a tire and rolled “three to four times”.
Fifteen passenger vans are an interesting case study in government regulation. The government knows that 15-passenger vans are more dangerous when more than 10 passengers ride in them. While NHTSA recommends that an “experienced driver” be in charge of the van, laws governing who must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are carefully written to exclude these vans: the cutoff for a CDL is 16 people.
A CDL is not an extremely difficult requirement, and it tests legitimate skills:
A prospective driver must pass a written test on highway safety and a test about different parts of a truck with a minimum of 30 questions on the test. To pass this knowledge tests student drivers must answer at least 80 percent of the questions correctly. To pass the driving skills test the student driver must successfully perform a set of required driving maneuvers. The driving skill test must be taken in a vehicle that the driver operates or expects to operate.
I assume the reason that 15-passenger van drivers aren’t required to have a CDL is that church groups and other interests who use these vans for casual transportation feel that they would be unduly burdened by that requirement. I don’t know if the driver in yesterday’s crash had a CDL, and I’m certain that a CDL is no panacea. I’m just offering this case as an example of a serious public safety issue where licensing could help, and government isn’t stepping in.