News Briefs

DOT repeats 15-seat van rollover warning

On June 1, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) re-issued a warning to users of 15-passenger vans because of an increased rollover risk under certain conditions. Similar warnings were issued in 2001 and 2002.

The safety agency also unveiled an updated consumer hangtag for users of 15-passenger vans and released three related research reports. One of the reports is a detailed analysis of 15-passenger van crashes between 1990 and 2002.

The newly released NHTSA research reinforces the fact that 15-passenger vans have a rollover risk that increases dramatically as the number of occupants increases to full capacity. In fact, the likelihood of a rollover when a van is fully loaded is about five times greater than when the vehicle contains only a driver. While an increased likelihood of rollover is present for other types of fully loaded passenger vehicles, it is most pronounced in 15-passenger vans.

The new NHTSA analysis also showed that the risk of rollover increased significantly at speeds over 50 miles per hour and on curved roads.

(DOT news release.)

Security directive issued for mass transit

The Department of Homeland Security issued its first anti-terror directive for the nation's commuter rail and subway systems on May 20, calling for wide-ranging precautions dealing with checks of unattended bags, bombproof trash receptacles and the use of explosive-sniffing dogs.

The regulations were to go into effect on May 23, but operators said they hadn't been issued copies of the requirements.

Fears for the nation's rail systems rose after Sept. 11, 2001, and again after the Madrid train bombings in March. The announcement of new rules prompted pleas for more money from rail operators, who say that although airlines have received billions in direct assistance for anti-terror measures, the country's railway systems have been given relatively little.

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) press release briefly mentioned these topics: that rail operators must designate coordinators for communicating with the TSA; that passengers and employees will be asked to report unattended property and suspicious behavior and that similar inspections will be conducted; that in certain locations, trash receptacles must be bomb-resistant or made of clear plastic; that canine explosive detection teams may be used; and that rail operators will ensure that security is at "appropriate levels consistent with the DHS established threat level."

(Washington Post).



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen