What You Should Know About 15-Passenger Vans

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1 What You Should Know About s Why should I read this guide? This document provides licensing, registration, and other safety information for owners and operators of 15-passenger vans in the Northwest Territories. While recent high-profile collisions involving 15-passenger vans have focused public attention on these vehicles, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators has found them to be as safe as other highways vehicles. The safety of all people travelling on NWT roads is the Department of Transportation s top priority. Driver training, regular vehicle maintenance, and proper vehicle loading will support a safe driving experience for you and your passengers. TO INFORM AND ASSIST NORTHWEST TERRITORIES OWNERS AND OPERATORS OF 15-PASSENGER VANS JUNE 2013 Quick Facts Under Northwest Territories law, 15-passenger vans are considered buses. Schools, hotels, sports teams, charities, church groups, work sites, and other community organizations often use 15-passenger vans to transport both passengers and cargo. If driven improperly, these vehicles have increased rollover risk, decreased stability, and a tendency to fishtail at high speeds. However, with knowledge and training, drivers can safely maintain and operate these vehicles both commercially and privately.

2 Does the National Safety Code apply to 15-passenger vans? If you operate a 15-passenger van for business purposes (including rented or chartered vehicles), you must meet requirements under the National Safety Code (NSC), including hours of service requirements, daily inspections, and record keeping. Private use of 15-passenger vans, including use by community organizations, is exempt from NSC requirements. For more information about the National Safety Code, please contact the Transport Compliance Section of the Department of Transportation at What class of drivers licence do I need to operate a 15-passenger These vehicles are considered buses and require a Class 4,3,2, or 1 professional drivers licence. They cannot be driven by a Class 5 licence holder unless the driver is learning how to drive a 15-passenger van. In this case, the passenger accompanying the driver must have at least a Class 4 licence with a minimum of three years experience. Operational Requirements for s (Society Vehicle) (Rental, less than 30 days) Do I have to follow NSC requirements? What classes of licence do I need to drive a 15-passenger What is the minimum driving age required to operate a 15-passenger No 4,3,2, or 1 18 Yes (responsibility of the rental company) 4,3,2, or 1 18 (Rental, 30 days or more) (School Bus) Yes (responsibility of the renter) 4,3,2, or 1 18 No 4,3,2, or Passenger (Private) No 4,3,2, or Passenger (Commercial) Yes 4,3,2, or 1 18

3 My organization owns and operates a 15-passenger van. What do I need to know? If your organization owns and operates a 15-passenger van, all drivers must hold a Class 4 Northwest Territories drivers licence or the equivalent from another jurisdiction. The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators also recommends that organizations, including schools, create and maintain policies to ensure proper operation and maintenance of these vehicles. Such a policy could refer to required driving experience and training, insurance, or set out criteria for the assessment of driver s abstracts. Organizations should monitor drivers and vehicles to ensure policies are being followed. Choose fully-licensed drivers with experience, proper training, and a safe driving record. Maintain policies and guidelines for the operation and maintenance of all fleet vehicles. Require supervisors to carry contact information and cell or satellite phones in case of emergency. Provide a trip itinerary to parents or other contacts. Be prepared for adverse weather conditions. NWT road reports are available online at Contact your insurance provider to find out insurance requirements for your 15- passenger van. The Motor Vehicles Act also contains information regarding basic insurance requirements for any vehicle. My organization would prefer to use a different kind of vehicle for our passengers or cargo. What other vehicles can I use? School buses are recommended for transporting large groups of students to and from school or for extracurricular activities. School buses are one of the safest available modes of transportation Multi-functional activity buses (MFAB) also meet national standards. They are built with all the safety construction features of a school bus but without the traffic warning devices required for school buses.

4 I drive a 15-passenger van. What do I need to know? Driving a Commercial vehicle training courses are available to help you prepare for your Class 4 drivers licence examinations. If you plan to operate a 15-passenger van, participation in one of these courses is recommended. Training specific to 15-passenger vans is available in the Northwest Territories. Drivers must be aware that these large vehicles do not handle like everyday cars and trucks. Additional braking time is needed and abrupt steering should be avoided. Avoid distractions. Remind your passengers that their actions may be distracting. Be prepared for adverse weather conditions. NWT road reports are available online at Take regular breaks. As with alcohol and other drugs, fatigue can impair your driving ability. Use of handheld devices (cell phones, GPS) is illegal while driving. Operate at a safe speed for weather and road conditions, staying within the speed limit. Give yourself additional braking time. Loading Passengers and Cargo Always fill the front passenger seats first. Distribute the remaining cargo throughout the rest of the vehicle or on the floor near the front. Never carry more passengers than there are available seat belts. If the vehicle is not full, load passengers and cargo in front of the rear axle. Avoid roof racks, rear cargo boxes, and tow trailers as these can negatively affect vehicle handling. If you must use one of these storage devices, carry heavier cargo inside the vehicle and never exceed weight limits. Weight distribution can dramatically affect vehicle handling. To find out how much weight your vehicle can carry, locate the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) in the owner s manual or on the driver s door post. Subtract the net weight of your vehicle (when empty) from the GVWR. Cargo or passengers up to the resulting weight may be added to the vehicle. If you do not have an owner's manual, contact your vehicle dealer.

5 Regular maintenance makes my 15-passenger van safer. What do I need to know? Seat Belts Seat belts should be worn at all times while driving by all passengers. As a driver, you can face fines under the Motor Vehicles Act as well as demerit points on your drivers licence for seat belt infractions, including carrying more passengers than available seat belts. You are also responsible to ensure passengers under 15 years of age wear their seatbelt. Make sure the tires are in good condition. Check tire tread depth. Make sure tires are appropriate for weather and road conditions. Manually check tire pressure once a month. Make sure seat belt is in proper working condition. Make sure seat belt is worn properly. Never have more passengers then seat belts. Always make sure passengers are properly restrained, using a seat belt or car seat as required. Tire Maintenance Check each vehicle tire before driving and check tire pressure on a monthly basis. Tire pressure is based on your vehicle s weight and design. It can be different in the front and in the rear of your vehicle, but is essential to vehicle control and reducing roll-over risk. Your vehicle s owner s manual will state tire type and required tire pressure. What is Electronic Stability Control? Electronic Stability Control can improve vehicle handling and reduce rollovers. ESC automatically applies the brakes when the gravitational pull to any side of the vehicle reaches a threshold that would cause the vehicle to roll onto its side. As of 2011, vehicles must be manufactured with ESC and it is recommended that you purchase or rent only equipped vehicles. If you are not sure if your vehicle is equipped with ESC, check your owner s manual. If you currently own a van without ESC, it cannot be installed. Questions or Comments? For more information regarding 15-passenger vans, please contact: Road Licensing and Safety Division NWT Department of Transportation Avenue P.O. Box 1320 Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9 PH: FAX:

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