Transport Canada doesn’t appear to be taking an active role in addressing the use of 15-seat passenger vans in Canada, according to B.C. union spokesman Bryan Murphy.
Murphy, a former bus driver and mechanic, was on hand to support the lobbying efforts of mothers who lost children in van accidents.
While three provinces in Canada have banned the use of the vans, Murphy said other provinces must follow suit.
Murphy said the vans were never designed to carry passengers; they were adapted instead from their original role as cargo vans.
“The manufacturer decided to install seats and windows in the van to increase sales, make some money,” he alleged.
“And of course the automotive engineers that designed the vans originally to meet federal standards, they never re-designed the vehicle to higher safety standards to transport passengers.”
Murphy said the increased load in the vehicles raises the centre of gravity and moves it further to the back of the van, which can make it easier to lose control or flip.
“A common thing we hear all throughout the United States and Canada is the fact that when the van loses its ability to have traction on the road, fishtailing occurs and there’s a greater likelihood of rollover.”
In addition, Murphy said van manufacturers did not include safety glass on the side windows, heightening the chances of passengers being ejected from the vehicle.
“In the event of an accident, all of the windows in the van with the exception of the windshield become like sand. It’s gone.”
Frustration mounting for activists
Some of the presenters at yesterday’s press conference expressed frustration with the lack of action on the issue they perceive from Transport Canada.
But they also aren’t giving up without a fight.
“We don’t know what the results will be,” said Isabelle Hains, adding that remaining silent was a chance they were not willing to take.
“With the (safety) review, (we hope) it will be a positive answer for us tomorrow when we speak with the minister.”