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BSA to prohibit use of 15-passenger vans made before 2005

Fully loaded 15-passenger vans, like the ones you might use to haul a bunch of Scouts to camp, can be more dangerous than you might think.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants are three times more likely to roll over than ones carrying fewer than five passengers.

That’s why all Scouters should take heed of this breaking BSA news: Effective Sept. 1, 2015, the use of 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 will no longer be allowed in connection with Scouting programs and activities.

15-passenger vans manufactured in 2005 or later may be used, as long as they are equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver.

This applies to all vehicles, regardless of ownership (privately owned, owned by chartered organization, rentals, etc.).

Why the rule?

First, it’s a fact that adults who are used to driving their SUV or passenger car often overestimate their skills when it comes to driving a 15-passenger van.

Also, the BSA has determined that the risk posed by the use of 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 are such that they should not be used. Most pre-2005 vans without Electronic Stability Control have already been retired and are no longer in use.

Safety tips for using 15-passenger vans

Have a newer 15-passenger van that meets BSA requirements? Here are some safety tips from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that you should read:

  • Make sure that the vehicle is properly maintained (correct size tires, steering, brakes, ESC, etc.). The best practice is to complete an inspection checklist daily or before use.
  • Make sure drivers are trained and experienced in operating 15-passenger vans and are properly licensed. (There are online resources for drivers to learn about the safe operation of these vehicles. For example, see this link.
  • 15-passenger vans are very sensitive to loading and should not be overloaded under any circumstances. Agency research shows overloading not only increases rollover risk but also makes the vehicle more unstable in any handling maneuvers. For example, passenger capacity should be reduced by one for every 150 pounds of gear, and roof-mounted storage units should not be used.
  • Make sure that properly sized tires are being used on the vehicle.
  • Before every trip, drivers should check the tires for proper inflation and make sure there are no signs of excessive or uneven wear. The “penny test” is a good indicator of whether tread depth meets the minimum requirements.
  • Make sure all passengers wear seatbelts.

FAQs on this policy change

These come from the BSA’s general counsel.

Q. Where will this policy be published?

A. We will be adding this to the next update of the Guide to Safe Scouting and other BSA publications as they are modified.

Q. Can we remove seats from our 15-passenger vans to meet this new policy?

A. No. Improper loading of cargo can be just as much of a hazard to the driver as a passenger loaded vehicle is to occupants.

Q. Does this apply to our chartered organizations?

A. Yes. The prohibition applies to any vehicles used in connection with Scouting programs or activities. This applies regardless of ownership, including rental vehicles.

Q. Does this apply to camp vehicles used off public roads at low speed if they are not registered for highway use?

A. Yes. The prohibition applies to any vehicles used in connection with Scouting programs or activities. This applies regardless of ownership, including rental vehicles.

Q. Why is the BSA taking this action?

A. The history of injuries due to accidents involving these vehicles coupled with the availability of vehicles with ESC makes it appropriate to take this additional precaution to prevent injuries.

157 Comments on BSA to prohibit use of 15-passenger vans made before 2005

  1. If our unit were to do an activity such as whitewater rafting where participants are relocated upstream to a launch point, is there any implications of this ruling if that outfitting organization running the trip uses vehicles such as these to do their transportation?

    • Great question, I know at our local summer camp, the organization that does ours uses these as well.

    • Q. Does this apply to our chartered organizations?

      A. Yes. The prohibition applies to any vehicles used in connection with Scouting programs or activities. This applies regardless of ownership, including rental vehicles.

      • That doesn’t answer the question. The OP asked if a commercial outfitter uses vans if they are subject to BSA rules. They are operating under a liability policy of their own, so it may or may not apply. This rule applies to all BSA entities and chartering organizations, not commercial outfitters. It is a good question and is not answered in the Q&A above.

    • This is a great question, because outfitters may not be able to tell you or guarantee which vehicles in their fleet will be used on any given day. So if you show up to a canoe/rafting outfitter, and all they have available are the 15 passenger vans, we’ll just have to leave and (probably) forfeit all our payments? I guess BSA will have to ban the use of non-bsa outfitters now.

    • Gary Jordan // April 27, 2015 at 8:49 am // Reply

      So, since National is implimenting this new requirement, without our opportunity to participate in the discussion, then when can we expect our replacement vans from National?

  2. Good call. Let’s keep our scouts safe.

    • It’s an excellent idea to ensure that scouts are safe traveling to and from events, particularly because we’ve found that’s actually the most dangerous part of a Scouting Activity. I appreciate that the BSA is genuinely attempting to ensure scout safety.

      But on the other hand, this policy will not accomplish that goal. By prohibiting just one specific vehicle, we’re leaving the door open to any number of other dangerous vehicles. What’s to stop someone, for example, from taking scouts in a different, but similarly-dangerous vehicle, like a 1973 Ford Pinto with poor brakes, or a 2008 Toyota with a sticky gas pedal? In that sort of situation, I would hope common sense and good judgement would prevail. But if we could rely on units to exercise such judgement, we wouldn’t have the Guide to Safe Scouting.

      If we really want to keep scouts safe, we shouldn’t just ban one certain vehicle, we should set broader rules for cars. Maybe we should require all cars to have anti-lock brakes, for instance, or prohibit vans altogether. That’s something for the BSA’s experts to assess. But we shouldn’t just ban one specific vehicle–that’s just stupid.

      • The hardest thing to digest is the fact that fewer scouts will participate in the large summer and winter attractions. While they were cubs, most scouts, at least ours, had a high percent of parental involvement. When our scouts crossed over, the troop has maintained approximately ninety percent of parental involvement, between scoutmaster, and his assistants, and the committee. What we don’t have are enough volunteers to guarantee the scouts can make the trips to summer and winter camps as well as our traveling camps. We attend two summer camps per year and the scouts love it. Logistics are tough and the same few make sure the scouts go. As we grow, and we have been lately due to word getting out about our always adapting program, we have been realizing that these large vans are our ONLY option. To use a van large enough to transport twenty five or thirty will require charters. That’s triple the costs to attend. We will be asked to have the scouts cover the expenses. We can’t do that and will now have to curtail our growth. Fewer will participate. It’s a shame.

        • Purplescouter // September 1, 2015 at 11:28 am //

          Don’t panic just yet. You can still use a 15-passenger van, it just has to be less than 10 years old. Seems reasonable.

      • “Effective September 1, 2015, the use of 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 will no longer be allowed in connection with Scouting programs and activities. Any 2005 or later 15-passenger vans may be used if equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers including the driver. This applies to all vehicles, regardless of ownership.”

        The last sentence addresses your query and concern.

  3. Ok – I have a 12 passenger EXTENDED van, with stability controls, and extra strong support systems, air bags, as well as seat belts for every passenger and a heavy duty tow package. I also take extra precautions, have extensive driving practice (and have had extra practice in all sorts of driving on slick roads/ice/etc) and get the van serviced before trips, oil changes, tire checks, rotation (If time), alignments, etc… any time I am hauling scouts and/or gear or the trailer, I get the van totally checked out. It’s a 2004 Ford, XLT w/extras… and it’s well maintained and takes good care of us!

    • Yeah the BSA is a bunch of elderly people who are too worried and bored to do anything else with their lives than put restrictions and rules to the world of Scouting. Drive whatever freaking van you want. Just don’t be a freaking idiot about it.

      • I know of a scout that was in a wreck in one of these vehicles, had gasoline burns and lost one of his legs below the knee. I am sure he doesn’t think this is a bad call by the BSA.

        • Was there a lawsuit against BSA?

      • Joseph Langkilde // February 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm // Reply

        I have a 2004 Ford E350 15 passenger van and know that this is a good policy from the BSA. I look forward to selling my current van and getting a newer van that meets their safety requirements. I want my scouts and my family to be safe.

        Also my brother works for a community college and a few years ago the college gat rid of all their 15 passenger van because of the high risk and I believe their insurance wouldn’t allow it either.

        This is a great policy and I encourage everyone to follow it. Be wise and follow their guidelines, what can I say more!

      • I think its a good idea that the council is trying to make scouts safe. But, troops don’t have a whole lot of money & if the council wants to set these rules they should supply a way for units to purchase new vans up to their standards. OR they should supply required training for drivers. What about requiring an inspection once a year on the van instead to make sure it is up to standard. Our charter inspects our van annually .

        • My state already requires yearly inspections, and in 4 states we’ve lived in recently, we’ve never had any problem insuring it. And it has stabilitrack. No one in any of our units has ever had an accident driving these, whether it was filled with their own children or other scouts. I feel this is the result of lawyers advising the BSA against future lawsuits more than anything safety-related.

    • I have 8 kids and a 15 passenger van, with 10 captains chairs instead of benches, shoulder belts for all, stabilitrack, air bags, anti lock brakes, but it’s a 2004. I don’t overload it, and we’ve been driving it for 7 years. Never had any troubles, but we don’t drive like maniacs. Oh well, my troop’s loss. No more volunteering for camping weekends. but we’re not getting rid of it.

      • Stabilitrak is an electronic stability control system, and you have seat belts for all passengers. Thus, your van still meets the expectations and can be used. This was clarified in the article:

        “15-passenger vans manufactured in 2005 or later may be used, as long as they are equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver.”

        • As far as I read, it says 2005 and later (meaning more recent) so my 2004 can’t work. Or am I reading it wrong?

    • No need to worry then, either way, its not a 15-passenger van.

  4. We are looking to use a couple of these for our trip to summer camp.

    • Then this rule won’t apply 🙂 This is for 15-passenger vans specifically.

      • Sorry! That reply was meant to go to the comment above yours!

    • You’re fine… the rule doesn’t go into affect until September.

  5. ScoutingManiac // February 13, 2015 at 8:37 am // Reply

    So where are councils supposed to all of a sudden get the money to purchase or lease new 15-passenger vans used for resident camp programs? Is National going to provide assistance or is national going to let local councils fend for themselves as they usually do?

    • National provide assistance!?! ROFLMAO – stop it, you’re killing me here. I’m crying.

      • Larry Walker // April 15, 2015 at 6:25 pm // Reply

        Sell more popcorn! 🙂

  6. Why such a short notice on this? We use ours once or twice a month.

  7. This seems really odd to me. As always, whether it be firearms, knives, fire, chainsaws, etcetera; this is a tool, if the tool is misused, it could be deadly. In this case, this is an extremely powerful tool, particularly for summer camps and troops traveling to them. Many troops don’t have money to simply upgrade their vehicles(s) to new models. I wonder if BSA will implement a reimbursement program.

    It seems like it would be a better idea to require drivers of these vehicles to have to take a specific course that the advisory board could design, even if it was an online course.

    I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t want the safety of the Scouts, I just think their are far better options than an outright ban to something that many troops and leaders have spent a huge amount of money for, to use almost exclusively on Scouting events. According to the logic of this article, should we ban any vehicles that don’t have a 5 star crash test rating? Or vehicles pre-crumple zones?

    I have an unfortunate sinking feeling that this decision was dictated to National through the insurance prices quoted to the BSA.

  8. This has lots to do with attorneys giving a corporation advice on how to avoid a lawsuit and very little to do with realistic safety concerns, responsible driving, and achieving the aims of Scouting. Is it safe to assume that BSA just dealt with a lawsuit or the threat of one?

    Here’s the stats:
    More people are struck by lightning every year in the US than are killed in accidents while riding in 15 passenger vans (and in case you aren’t keeping track, that’s around 1 in 3 million++). 15p van fatalities represent less than 1/3 of 1% of a traffic fatalities.

    Despite MILLIONS of miles traveled per year, there are less than 50 large van rollovers per with more than 5 passengers in a van. But, as you can see from my links below, law firms have devoted large portions of their practices to pursuing these cases. Why? Money. Not safety.

    (http://www.cultureofsafety.com/driving/15-passenger-vans/)
    (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hazstats.shtml)
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year)
    (http://www.rolloverlawyer.com/articles/15-passenger-van-rollover-accident-lawsuit/)

    (That’s 10 minutes of research. If those numbers aren’t accurate and I am way off base, feel free to correct me.)

    Here’s the immediate impact:

    As a Scoutmaster of a unit that just found out by a blog post that their van is off limits come September, I hope the corporate folks take a long, hard look at the membership trends and then ask themselves if setting up new barriers to participation in outdoor activities and High Adventure is really worthwhile. Ground travel as a group is often the only way to keep travel costs manageable for lower income and low middle income youth. Asking a charter org or van donor to purchase a newer vehicle is simply not practical, especially after a 6 year recession.

    So, we will have to go back to using multiple adult leader vehicles for the same trip, increasing fuel usage, number of vehicles on the road (which is additional risk itself), and the need for more drivers than we would otherwise need. So much for stewardship of the environment. So much for team driving.

    Bad idea, folks. President Gates, you need to pull your counsel in and have a chat. Has anyone even surveyed the units to see what the financial impact this will have on them? I would reach out to you directly through your assistant Charles Crimmins, but his contact information is not readily available.

    • Alex, are those stats per vehicle miles driven? In other words, over the same amount of time and distance spent transporting, are two 7 passenger vehicles less likely to roll over than one pre-’05 15 passenger vehicle?

      That’s NHTSA’s working number.

      You cite fatalities, but we are also concerned about any injuries.So roll-overs, not just fatalities, is a number to watch these days.

      You also cite lightning strikes in the general population, but that number is not adjusted for time spent outdoors. (Hint: that’s a big number for scouts,) Likewise, the roll-over risk has to be adjusted for time spent in the vehicle(s).

      It really stinks that units who thought their used 15p van was boon for their unit are forced back to the drawing board. It stinks worse for the unlucky unit whose boys are upside-down at the bottom of a ravine because their scouter never was advised or warned of the hazard.

      • National is not prohibiting the use of all 15-passenger vans, just those that are more than ten years old, and specifically because they do not possess electronic stability control and ARE involved in a higher percentage of fatal roll over crashes. Why would anyone argue to keep using older vans that are not as safe as could be, when driving is the most dangerous things that a scout will ever do? Just to save some money you want to keep using older vans? Really? Your lighting statistic is completely spurious and not applicable, and even if it were, there is a protocol for lightning safety in the scouts.

    • Most people struck by lightening don’t die so that is not a good comparison to those that die in these vans

  9. What are scouts to do when their sponsoring organizations use retired school buses that may not meet these requirements. Many school systems still have these in their active fleet.

    • The way I read this, this rule is only applying to 15 passenger vans. In addition, most of the time you have to have a CDL to drive a school bus, even retired. Some people will register them as campers but they have to have seats removed to only accommodate so many passengers to get around the CDL requirement. This is specifically looking at these vans because there is no commercial drivers’ license requirement, which adds a “certain level” of risk when driving with that many people. Larger vehicles probably aren’t being looked at bc of the driver’s license requirements.

      • It is my understanding is that any vehicle with more than 12 seats require a CDL license to drive. There are many requirement to obtain a CDL license with a Passenger endorsement, so the risk level should be reduced as a result of those requirements.

        • MI Scouter // February 25, 2015 at 3:08 pm //

          In MI, you only need a chauffeur’s license to drive a vehicle with a capacity of +16.

    • To drive a bus many states require you to have a cdl license, thus mitigating the that of “not knowing how to handle the vehicle you’re driving.” This rule seems to only apply to 15 passenger vans only.

      • While that is the case short buses on the other hand generally do not have that requirement. My thought is will short buses be effected?

    • Find another way. Same thing when some states have come to the same conclusion and banned their use for student transportation. While I scoff at some of the rules, have to say that they seem reasonable this time.

      • Yes, but when states ban the use of such vehicles for school transportation, they’ve given the school districts more than a 200-day “heads-up” on the issue so the schools can budget, plan and adapt. That’s the real problem here. The BSA has given us no warning and not much time to adapt. We have less than 200 days (again with no prior warning) to get new vehicles or be stuck without a means of transportation for our programs!?!?! Our 2015 budgets have already been set. Guess we’ll wait until 2016 and just walk everywhere for 6-12 months until we can find and buy a new van sometime in the new year.

  10. Michigan Scouter // February 13, 2015 at 9:27 am // Reply

    This appears arbitrary and capricious. If there truly was a safety issue this policy would be immediate, to set a date more than 6 months into the future opens the BSA up to even greater liability should any accident occur in the meantime. None of the councils, camps, units or chartered organization I deal with uses such a vehicle, so it doesn’t affect scouting in my area, but again this seems to be suspicious and strange…

    • Odds are it is when their insurance is renewed and now the liability and risk is being transferred once again to the individual units.

  11. Since I work in the auto industry, the question I have is… did the BSA mean to say manufactured before 2005 “calendar year” or “model year”. There is a difference.

  12. Is the BSA going to help set up some sort of trade-in program for camps, councils and units so that they can comply with this new rule and not see their programs (and budgets) suffer as a result of losing their vans comes Sep 1?

  13. What if it is pre-2005 but is equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver?

  14. Ohio Scoutmaster // February 13, 2015 at 10:34 am // Reply

    I agree with most of the outrage over this issue. My every day vehicle is a 15-seat 2003 Ford E-350 Super Duty. For the last dozen years, it has been used to safely haul Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, soccer teams, and my family on adventures from the east coast to Texas. The usually misidentified safety issue, and several have already touched on it, is the driver not the vehicle.

    I understand how it handles under different loads and in various weather. That is why the only others I have allowed to use it for transporting youth have a similar skill set and level of experience. As someone already mentioned, these are safe and helpful tools when used properly! Not having this resource available will significantly increase the logistical challenge and cost of many of our outings.

  15. You may also be getting some pushback from your insurance company. They may not even write coverage for 15 passenger vans for the risk associated as listed above. If you can’t insure the van, you probably won’t want to drive it.

  16. I wonder what Trail Life USA’s policy is on this.

    • If the insurance company doesn’t give them their way, they’re going to throw a tantrum and find a new insurance company.

  17. If the BSA says, “NO”, then it’s no. If your unit decides to not stay in line with them due to legitimate reasons and something happens, you assume liability. Roll the dice I say! Roll the dice.

    National seems to forget that this program consists mainly of VOLUNTEERS and most Chartered Orgs don’t have the funding National is used to at a corporate level. The Good Idea Fairy has flown by again and sneezed all over us.

    • Spot on!!!

  18. Matthew Price, Scoutmaster // February 13, 2015 at 11:15 am // Reply

    There are 22 passenger vans that work.

    • Wopuld you list the 22 passenger vans that work ?

      • 22 passenger vans require a chauffeurs license, don’t they?

        • I misunderstood your coment. I thought you were saying that there were 22 types of vans that were ok.
          I know that anything over 15 passenger requires a CDL.

  19. Pretty sad. This is my personal vehicle of which I have two. The other vehicle really only carries two comfortably. Will the BSA be mandating safety inspections for all other vehicles to ensure that they meet this nebulous safety standard?

  20. What about using these vehicles with 9 or fewer occupants?

  21. This is one of the many reasons why! The vans are unsafe and a liability! One of the scouts lost his leg.

    http://www.wspa.com/story/21520140/4-scouts-remain-in-the-hospital-after-van-crash

    • The article doesn’t say this was a fifteen passenger van.

      • You are right it doesn’t, but it was

    • Individual accidents don’t condemn a vehicle class. The announcement of the rule should have been accompanied by by injury and fatality statistics per passenger mile to show whether it is more dangerous, or if it’s just a case of more risk in a single vehicle instead of spread out over two or three minivans

    • Scouts are at risk from depression, anxiety, lightning, 4-wheelers, sailboats, snow skiing, water skiing, fire, cutting wood and a million other things. All of these things are more likely to cause injury or death than riding in a 15 passenger van driven by a responsible Adult Scouter. I highly recommend that BSA have all upper management folks (the ones that are making these rules and are being paid) attend some training on Risk Management and work hard to develop a Risk Management Program. It is obvious from many of the comments here that the volunteers know more about risk assessment than the folks pushing this stuff down the hill… remember that poor management equals poor performance. We are a shrinking group because of the overall management of the program. Our problems are coming directly from the top to the detriment of the best efforts of those that are working so hard (FOR FREE) down where the rubber hits the road. Well, I guess we won’t have rubber on the road after September for several years to come.

  22. Are there any numbers that this ban went off of as well? Where are the stats regarding BSA van crashes when it comes to these types of vans.

  23. There were less than 150 accidents nationwide and only 39 rollovers in a 15 passenger van with more than 5 occupants according to the NTSB (see link above). But, if someone has a link to “Average miles between injury accidents by vehicle type”, I’d love to see it. I am looking and strangely, NONE of the law firm websites are advertising that stat. Hmmmmmm.

    Mileage? We both know that putting 4 vehicles on the road in place of 1 van equates to a statistical mileage/accident burden that simply can’t be overcome. That fact alone tells us this isn’t about Scout safety.

    This is about plaintiffs per vehicle. The number of injury and fatality accidents in the US is dropping. The number of attorneys isn’t.

  24. As well in most states you are required to obtain a Class B or Class A drivers license with a passenger endorsement as they are considered a BUS by the Federal Titles governing vehicles of this size. They are also subject for inspections by the states motor vehicle carrier enforcement division

  25. 17 year SM veteran // February 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm // Reply

    Those 15 man vans are dangerous. We were picking up the last of our Maine High Adventure crew in the neighborhood before the light of dawn with our large van. A police officer pulled us over thinking we were burglars. We were all in complete Class “A” scout uniforms. I’d be lying if I told you the scouts weren’t cracking-up with laughter after the embarrassed officers left.

  26. I will add here that there are many drivers capable of handling these vans, it’s not so much as they are unsafe but dealers don’t tell you that anything over a 10 passenger van is a commercial vehicle. To those drivers that took the time to learn about safe handling and make them familiar with their operating hazards, kudos. Please don’t feel offended by this information, I can understand why BSA has made this policy change. Also, beware of dealers who don’t explain about this vehicle being a BUS under the law.

  27. How does this affect buses?

  28. The blog post says: “15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 will no longer be allowed in connection with Scouting programs and activities.” It also states “15-passenger vans manufactured in 2005 or later may be used, as long as they are equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver.”

    What about 18-passenger vans? Vans that at one-time were 15-passenger but have been since been refitted to be 10- or 12-passenger vehicles? Mini buses? Other extended-passenger-vans? RVs? Vans manufactured in 2003 or 2004 that are equipped with Electronic Stability Control and seat belts for all passengers and the driver? What if the diver has special training or certifications?

    What if we go to a third-party purveyor (such as a whitewater rafting outfitter that uses vans to transport participants to and from the river), do we need to ask what year their licensed and road-legal vans were manufactured before we let the Scouts in? What if they say 2003? Do we just have to go home then?

    What exactly is the updated Guide to Safe Scouting going to say and dictate about these types of vehicles? This blog post seems both specific and vague on the while issue.

    Bryan, can you please provide the exact quote from the updated Guide to Safe Scouting so that we can understand fully what exactly this new rule states? Thanks!

    • Bryan Wendell // February 13, 2015 at 3:51 pm // Reply

      Elmer/Kyle/Harold/Ryan,

      This is all the info I have right now. Thanks!

      • Well could you maybe do some digging and get more info?!? This is a new policy that is going to critically affect some troops, crews and council programs. We have less than 7 months to adapt (vans aren’t cheap). We want to, as they say, BE PREPARED so our programs (and budgets) don’t suffer… But it’s hard to do with such vauge and unclear reporting.

      • Bryan –

        While I appreciate you getting this information out to BSA volunteers as soon as possible, this appears to be yet another example of the BSA announcing something big without having all the details in place. Could you please do some digging and get us direct clarification of exactly what the rules for “15 passenger vans” will be (and what, if any, exceptions, conditions, limitations and regulations the new rule will carry)?

        What constitutes a 15-passenger van (is an 18-passenger vehicle okay? What about an equally-sized van that only has 13 or 14 seats? What about a large extended conversion van that was re-outfitted with 15 seats? What about mini-buses with 15 seats?) What constitutes pre-2005 (are we talking year it was physically manufactured or model year? What if a pre-2005 van it was rebuilt, re-outfitted or had a major mechanical upgrades post-2005)? Are their any exceptions that would allow a pre-2005 15-passenger van to be used (such as a pre-2005 vehicles with electronic stability controls or using drivers with an advanced training or certification)? Are any other similar-type/sized vehicles prohibited?

        This rule goes into affect on September 1st (just a little over 6 months away). Will any of us get a chance to see the black-and-white letter of this new law prior to the release of the revised Guide to Safe Scouting on September 1st (assuming revised guides will be released in September; and not October or November or early 2016) It would be nice to be able to BE PREPARED ahead of time for the change.

        This affects my troop greatly; we have a trip planed for September 4th that may or may not be impacted by this new rule (hard to tell without knowing the exact and full wording plus the specific stipulations of the rule). We don’t want to make plans that violate the rule; we also don’t want to rush and make changes or spend more money when it may not be necessary. I asked at my local Scout office about this to get some clarification and the news of this new rule was all news to them — even the Scout Executive was unaware this new rule was coming until I pointed him to your blog (so he knew less than I did… real help!).

        Could you PLEASE get us the direct quote of what the updated Guide to Safe Scouting will state (and/or at least let us know when such information will be available)?

        Thank you, Bryan!

  29. But my 14-passenger van from 1972 is still good to use, right? Cool.

    • Maybe not. In Maryland, that means ALL seats. The driver’s seat counts. Seven two seat benches and a driver equal 15 “passengers”. Any capacity below that, no CDL required. Capacity above, driver needs a CDL class B or C CDLicense, with P endorsement. A bus and a van are different only in the eyes of the manufacturer and buyer. A school bus is shaped differently, handles differently than a van. But to the state, if it is intended to carry more passengers than cargo, it’s a bus.

  30. Ken Boruff (Eagle) // February 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm // Reply

    National is doing it’s best to eliminate anything resembling traditional scouting ideals and self reliance. Soon if, not already, scouting will be too expensive with too many rules to allow local traditional scouting. It’s OK if you are a muslim brotherhood, minority, illegal alien, fully subsidized non- white female, non- Christian, unmarried…..further ranting. I bought a 15 passenger van to support scouting and all the damn Liberals and national infiltrators do is force national policies that destroy scouting. More ranting and raving….sick of the crap! BP, Earnest T Seton, Uncle Dan, James West etc. rolling in their graves! We need a Green Bar Bill like the 70’s, 80’s to get us back on track and stand on the higher BSA ideals ground!!!!!##

    • What on earth do minorities and their social agenda have to do with this issue? As with just about everything in the GTSS, this is about lawsuit liability. Certainly could be better explained with statistics or payouts & settlement info, but I can’t see how this has anything to do with an unmarried non-white female.

      Oh, and if it is something to do with liability risk trends and jury awards for damages, National IS trying to keep scouting from getting too expensive.

      Although, I guess thinking on it further, a single female Pakistani muslim on an overstayed visa volunteering for the Girl Scouts can accept your old 15 pax van as a donation and drive it for them.

    • Yesterday's Scout // February 15, 2015 at 5:36 am // Reply

      Ken Boruff (Eagle) writes: “National is doing it’s best to eliminate anything resembling traditional scouting ideals and self reliance. Soon if, not already, scouting will be too expensive with too many rules to allow local traditional scouting.”

      At the risk of being called a “troll” again by another user of this forum ….

      Sometimes I wonder about this and why things appear to be going the way they seem to be going. There are so many threads that seem to be pushing for more participation in ***HIGH ADVENTURE*** experiences. ***HIGH ADVENTURE*** is very expensive. Transportation can be very expensive. Is National going to price some families out of the Scouting experience? I know the Scouts in our troop can’t afford to hit all of the ***HIGH ADVENTURE*** bases. Or even one of them.

      I think the publication of the sexual abuse files made National “jumpy” – and then the attorneys got involved and that bus left the station, never to return.

  31. I don’t believe your vehicle would be a problem because they are only prohibiting 15-passenger vans, your van is only a 10 or 12 passenger van (wasn’t sure if you were counting the front seats with the 10)

  32. Dale Johnson // February 13, 2015 at 4:32 pm // Reply

    Once again the insurance companies and lawyers are going to dictate to the rest of us every facet of the organizations activities. I hear that these vehicles have been declared unsafe. Lets see some real evidence. Statistics to be made public? I would wager there are a lot of other “less safe” vehicles in current use by scouters.

  33. Safety will always involve a cost benefit analysis. I certainly would like to be conservative when it comes to the safety of the scouts under my supervision but something just does not add up here. If safety and availability of safer alternatives (i.e. ESC) is it then why not require helmets for all passengers in a motor vehicle. This issue with 15 passenger vans when they run off the road, have blow outs, or make emergency maneuvers has been known about for about 15 years. There are published best practices to reduce the risk such as monitoring the tire pressure and condition, adding supports and even changing the rear wheels to dualies. Were these considered against the costs of banning the vehicles? The safety features, (e.g. ESC) the BSA speaks of have been around for a minimum of 10 years so why now? How when and why was this issue raised?
    The BSA is very adamant that it is the Chartering Organizations that are responsible whenever liability is at issue regarding the operation of a unit. So, why interject additional control over Chartering Organizations and open the door more to arguments that the BSA indeed has liability?
    There are many good reasons to require a ban, but there are also reasons to not do so: it’s another obstacle to providing youth with the benefits of scouting; it is counter to our policies on ecology and environmental stewardship as it increases the amount of gas consumed and hazardous gases expelled; it increases the risk involved by creating groups of unit vehicles traveling together; it is opposed to our ideal of being thrifty; it conflicts with the spirit of the patrol method by further increasing the number of adults involved in the operation of the unit and in its activities. In the end the BSA made the cost benefit analysis for us and the policy was made. Chartering Units will need to figure out how they will respond. It is sad that there was not more communication about this issue before it was decided. That continues to be an ironic attribute of this organization that preaches leadership through effective communication.

  34. To say that something is x times more likely to happen than y is meaningless without knowing how many times y actually happened out of all the times it *could have happened*. If this van is 3 times more likely to roll than the other, and the other rolled once in the last year, this suddenly doesn’t sound so ominous. (Lies, damn lies, and statistics).

    Now, I’m not saying these vans should be used (tho I drove them for many summers, filled with scouts, and pulling a trailer of 8 canoes!). Rather, I am saying that this story leaves out essential information, leaving me to question whether the policy is an over-reaction.

  35. Roger Williams // February 13, 2015 at 8:35 pm // Reply

    If your vans belong to your chartered organization and they are fully insured, I would think there would be no problem.

    • My private vehicle, a 2004 15-passenger van with 10 captains’ chairs, is fully insured, with stabilitrack, antilock brakes and airbags, but it won’t qualify to drive boys to camp outs anymore. That’s a shame. I’ve been driving it for 8 years without one incident, no dangerous driving, no accidents. It’s been perfectly safe for us.

  36. Micromanagement at it’s finest. Ridiculous. Let’s put accountability and common sense back on the table.

    • Overreaction at its finest. And setting rules is the very definition of accountability.

  37. enough with the rules already, I understand and appreciate the intent. However, it is unrealistic in its implementation for all the reasons others have already noted. And, what is next? Am I to check my scouts for possible flammable underwear? Last year two of my boys didn’t tie their shoelaces and tripped and fell. Should we require Velcro?

  38. MidwestScouter177 // February 14, 2015 at 7:57 am // Reply

    Why is the date in September… after summer Scout Camp is over? I don’t understand the timing. Why wait until after summer camp? if the National Scout office decides to put this policy in place, would May or June be more effective?

    An alternative for National may have been to require a commercial driver’s license for drivers who transport more than a certain number of passengers. A CDL is far less expensive then a new vehicle.

    Additionally, reliance on technology, such as stability control, reduces our ability to think and act for ourselves. Please do not shun technology (mobile devices) on outings while requiring reliance on a different technology (stability control).

    I hope National’s decision to implement this new policy does not deter Scouters from delivering the program is outlined in the Scout Handbook.

    I believe this policy change is only at the headwaters of further policy change to further restrict and reduce the ability of Scouts and Scouters to effectively deliver the scouting program. I believe this and future policy changes placed into effect by fear of lawsuits and other unknowns will be more damaging to the creation and sustaining of character, citizenship, and the personal growth of Scouts.

    Let us overcome this change… this new societal challenge that the BSA has fallen prey to. Let us make real policy change that will deliver Scouting to every youth in America, not impede it’s delivery.

  39. An Old Scout // February 14, 2015 at 7:59 am // Reply

    Since the BSA has a safety concern with this it should be effective as soon as you posted this instead of waiting until Sept. 1, 2015. If something does happen while driving this van now and you knew about the upcoming ban you will have a hard time explaining why you still drove it.

  40. If you could see into the future, and know that by replacing your van you could save the life of a scout, or save him/her from a disfiguring injury, would the cost be too great?

    • Steve, of course that reasoning is no reasoning at all. BSA can’t see into the future anymore than you or I can. We are all taking calculated risks every time we swim, boat, shoot, cook, camp, rappel, weld, etc,etc,etch whether we do it as Scouts or not. And the vast majority of experience indicates, we can do all those activities with a very high degree of safety………..just like driving a van.

      I encourage you to consider this thoughtfully: ALL of us are deeply concerned with Scout safety. Why did this not, then, originate within the membership of Scouting? Were we so self absorbed that we could not see this issue ourselves? Go back and look at the stats. Accidents in this vehicle type and because of this vehicle type are exceedingly rare. There is a reason this wasn’t a grassroots effort.

      I imagine the conversation went something like this:
      Executive Board: How can we reduce operating costs.
      Insurance Guy: $$$$$ of your premium is tied to pre-2005 15p vans. If you eliminate those vans, your premium goes down.
      Counsel: The legal exposure a potential lawsuit is $$$$$.
      Executive Board: Gee, we can reduce our premium and our legal exposure if we restrict use of those vans.

      Boom. Policy.

      • Yesterday's Scout // February 15, 2015 at 8:09 pm // Reply

        And the conversation probably took place at the La Cima Club.

  41. Once again the National Office has used their magic wand to reduce the chance for boys to participate in programs. Or was that looking into National Crystal ball. It doesn’t matter that the van you have has been used for many, many years and has worked every time and is maintained. “Sorry boys, we can’t use the green van anymore, because it is unsafe. Can we possibly recruit kids with parents who have vans that are smaller to give you a chance to go on trips. I know we could haul that big trailer and the canoe trailer with the old van, but I don’t think we can afford vehicles now that can pull them. No, our council doesn’t have vehicles available either. No, our chartered organization won’t help, they really don’t want to do anything, but be able to say they charter a Troop. Yes, we could rent vehicles, but that will probably be made unsafe soon as well.”

    I know, I am being such a bad leader. I should say it this way. ‘It’s okay boys, we will be good scouts and do what is expected. The people at the top are only looking out for us. We will just sale more popcorn and purchase other vehicles. Scouting is the best program out there for you. I know all the other youth programs can still use those vehicles and attend all those great events. I’m sorry but those great people at the top of scouting are much better at knowing what is good for you than any other organization. Just keep selling popcorn and it will all work out. Oh, and make sure you go camping every month. Yes, we will only be able to camp within walking distance of the scout hall now. I’m sorry, the green van was our work horse, but we can no longer use it. I can’t afford to buy a newer van. I wouldn’t want to either. What is to stop the national office from outlawing that vehicle as well?”

    Either way you do it, the boys loose out in the end. The bottom line is simple. I have seen year after year, since I was a Scout, restriction after restriction be put on units. Then the entire organization wonders why the program seems to be shrinking. It is simple, you can safety yourself into non-existence. A big number of the people reading this are currently thinking “this guy doesn’t care about safety”. We might as well wrap the boys in bubble wrap and make sure they never go outside. What does the term “High Adventure” mean, when everything is eliminated? Things we did when I was a boy are not allowed now. Since my son started at the age of 6, I have seen so many simple things go away. Our boys use to paint a different building at the fairgrounds where the Cub Scout Day Camp is held. With the new safety rules, we can’t do that anymore.

    I will be honest, some where in this new rule is a way for BSA National to Profit. When can we expect he “BSA special vehicle purchase program” to come out? “If you are a Scout Pack or Troop and need to purchase vehicles to take your scouts and trips. Then use the BSA Vehicle Purchase Program. You will get special interest if you are associated with Boy Scouting”. Then in the small print it will say “XX percent of each vehicle purchased will go the the BSA National Office”. Don’t forget to donate your old vehicle to you local council, so they can sale it to another youth program for a profit!!!!!!!

    • You makes some good points. There are many changes I have seen in the 15 years we’ve had kids in scouts that seem to be made for the convenience or protection of the national office rather than for the benefit of the boys. I wonder when any in the national staff actually last attended a cuboree or pack meeting. And I wonder how many chartered organizations actually provide any sort of funding for their units? Most in my district only sign adult apps and occasionally provide a venue for Blue and gold. My sons’ troop has relied on people like me who own these vehicles to drive to camp outs and summer camp.

      • Elizabeth,

        I’m the COR from a CO that is so tiny and in the middle of nowhere SC.

        As COR, I am at every meeting that I can manage to be at, which is about 95% of them week to week. Sometimes I am there the full meeting, sometimes just a walk through to see if they need anything. I also go camping. In fact I have the most number of nights camped than any leader in the three units we sponsor. It doesn’t hurt that I camp with all three units, but nonetheless I want to see them in the outdoors and also provide support.

        As the COR I help coordinate the Popcorn Sale, the International Trip, the High Adventure Base Trips, and anything involving any extended liability for my organization. This would include things like climbing, shooting sports, or wilderness trekking. I am a very senior Scouter with 30 years experience and highly specialized training in NRA/WFA/Archery/Climbing/Scuba and I actually teach Scouts and Scouters skills to be safe in the adventures WE are participating in. I actually see and authorize each tour plan. I review medical forms, treasury reports, and more.

        Now on top of that we provide buildings, we provide 15 passenger vans (2014’s), we provide opportunities for service projects, we provide support financially by purchasing popcorn as a congregation. We provide resources financially by keeping the lights on, the heating bill paid, and the insurance on the building, vans, etc.

        I also represent my units at the District and Council levels. For my AHG unit I am a rep at the National level since they do not have local councils or regions.

        Just food for thought that some of COs/CORs actually care enough to do it right. We take the contract that we sign very seriously and use our Scout programs effectively to help the community. Our level of support is also mutual. The Scout units perform countless hours of service to the CO. They support the other youth programs as well. It is a mutual support where one isn’t giving more than the other. I find that many units do nothing from the CO except take up space on a particular night.

        If you don’t have that leadership support from the CO/COR, you can move places to meet. Nothing is keeping your unit there except your willingness to accept what they are providing or lack there of. Don’t pigeon hole yourself it accepting the “we’ve always met here thing.” You can move on, start your own units, become the CO, and set up Scouting the way it should be run. I did…it takes a lot of work, but I’ve never once looked back and said the thousands of hours I’ve given each year and the tens of thousands of personal dollars I spend each year wasn’t worth it. I’ve been blessed with a CO and Institutional Head that sees the value in Scouting and the opportunities for the youth and wants to help mold them. But they also see our program, our progress, see our milestones, and I communicate as COR with them weekly, monthly, and do an annual presentation Scout Sunday giving the status of the units before the entire Congregation. I always look for ways to brag on the youth and to show the value of the program and how it is benefiting our church to keep them.

        I wish you the best… now go make effective change!

        • Mr. Don,
          I wish you would go back and read what you wrote. I believe it epitomizes the problem some see with Scouting. YOU are great, YOU do this, YOU do that, YOU are just amazing… if we don’t have YOU we will all fail. Your last paragraph was quite amazing as well. You may be lucky to have support, but many are struggling, and just going out and finding a new CO has turned out to not be an option for many. Trust me, as a leader of one of the oldest packs in the country who’s national number matches our pack number, we are struggling to find a new CO, and are considering folding it because of the lack of support, and inability to find support. Does the lack of support, and financial assistance make us as leaders inferior?

          While you may do good work, we all do, but your greater that thou attitude is part of the issue many volunteers have. What happened to Mr. Gates new plan to turn national into a “Service Center” to support us instead of a giant dictation machine? I wonder myself.

          Your statement: “I wish you the best… now go make effective change!”

          A genuine change must first come from within the individual, only then can he or she attempt to make a significant contribution to humanity. – Dalai Lama

        • We work on effective change every day, thank you. I’m not sure the way you deal with your units would be right for us, or would work in my town. I’m not going to explain the specific or unique situations in our district. You misunderstood my post as a complaint. I was pointing out the fact that many units have COR’s that are in name only, and cannot afford to provide any monetary support at all. It sounds like your situation is unique and mine is not. I’ve been involved in scouting all over the country because of our frequent military moves, and in 6 states my situation was the most common.

          If it works for you great, but your involvement would not work in our area. Food for thought, now let’s refocus the conversation on how to provide solutions for units that currently use pre-2005 15-passenger vans, units that don’t have a CO that provides multiple current vans already.

  42. So is national going to provide the units with money to buy newer vans? Units are struggling enough with funding, an not they want to throw this at us.

  43. Every time BSA comes out with a new “ruling”, it pushes me closer and closer to saying goodbye to an organization that I once had a lot of respect for. I lose more and more respect each and every day for the BSA. I believe in protecting our youth, but I really and truly believe that those in National have not worked with local units in a very long time. They keep putting up more and more barriers in recruiting new members. BSA is getting very hard to defend now a days.

  44. This is absolutely ludicrous. We have a small troop in a rural community. Nearly all of our dads are busy farming, especially during scout camp season, which leaves pretty much two dads to be responsible for all the driving. Even if we took two smaller vehicles, we could only take about half our troop to camp.

    First we have to ignore the part of the scout oath “…To do my duty to God…” and now you’re going to start telling us what sort of vehicles we can drive??

    As another poster commented – who is to say the vehicle we purchase doesn’t get banned next year?

    You know, last time we were at camp we saw a bear there. I think that camp better be closed. We have some camps with poisonous spiders. Better close those, too. Actually, let’s just do everything virtual. The kids can just sit at home and get online and attend virtual camp. Of course, while they’re doing that, they could fall prey to online predators….so we better just not do that, either.

    Get a grip.

    • National is not telling you what kind of vehicle you can drive. They are telling you that you can’t drive OLD 15P vans which are more prone to roll over and cause fatalities and catastrophic injury. Is there a merit badge for IQ?

  45. Can we tear out all the seats and use them as gear vehicles?

    • Yep. No seats, no passengers. No problem with this ruling…No passengers, no need for a CDL with P endorsement. Only pay attention to the GVweight rating.

  46. I think that national is trying to run a balancing act here between safety for the scouts and problems for the units. They perhaps realize that an immediate ban could find units without time or resources to get their scouts to camp this year.

    At the same time there is a growing awareness over a real safety issue. Texas has banned school districts from using them for transportation (though a loophole exists in allowing charter transportation).

    The issue in allowing a unit to use them with fewer scouts is in that often they will actually make things worse with replacing scouts with gear. Yes we scouters working around the letter of the rule can make the rule worse.

    And while I sometimes get frustrated an insurance driven policy, I also realize that without insurance the organization will be sued into non-existence. it is a sad commentary on our society that someone has to be blamed and pay for every bad thing. At the same time, perhaps it wasn’t right when ignoring all senses about safety was acceptable as long as you blamed it on bad luck.

  47. The company I have worked for have been using 15 passenger vans for years to get people back and forth to work for years. I have no memory of any accidents involving roll over crashes or accidents with fatalities or any serious injuries.
    Our troop has a pre 05 15 passenger van and anyone who drives is required to carry a modified CDL and I think it may even be required by our state. All this new rule is going to do is make it tough for our boys to get to scouting activities. Being a small troop we don’t have the funds to run out and buy a vehicle that meets this new requirement.

  48. What is one limb or life worth?
    Obedient

  49. For better or for worse, this is a relevant issue. Whether the BSA National “is mentally awake” is or is not certain. But I find the comments and discussions quite informative. I have no doubt that we the adult volunteers and leaders take safety seriously; in fact, we probably think more about safety when it comes to scouting activities than we do about our own familelies’ outings, using our daily vehicles (!)

    In any event, this reminds me to cotinue pushing for a really educational driving course for our Scouts, their parents, and all unit volunteers and leaders.

    The course is called “Defensive Driving Course Online”

    This course is a “neglected” gem, it seems to me, which is listed on the left-hand column of “MyScouting.org” page. It’s a win-win undertaking: the BSA gets a$4 donation from the NSC( National Safety Council) and the course taker gets a 50% fee reduction for the course and, where applicable, a reduction in car insurance premium.

    But the most important benefit is that the taker will beone a more informed driver or rider, thus a safet driver now or in due time./.

  50. Just one more reason to add to the list of why I’m departing the BSA after 24 years…instead of addressing the real reason (drivers acting like wannabe Mario Andretti’s and Richard Petty), they go after a vehicle…stupid “reasoning”. Enforce EXISTING policy or require some kind of training for these vehicles, don’t ban them.

    And the arguments about what is “one life or limb worth” are strawman arguments…it is NOT the vehicle’s fault…BSA even admits it in the article…“First, it’s a fact that adults who are used to driving their SUV or passenger car often overestimate their skills when it comes to driving a 15-passenger van.”

    So instead of holding the drivers accountable for not complying with EXISTING BSA policies, they’re going to impose even more hardships on units. Look at all the comments and commenters going through contortions “supporting” the BSA’s decision vs. actually challenging this idiocy…I wonder how we even made it this far.

    Death by a thousand cuts…

  51. A Scout is “trustworthy”…I guess truth is not what is wanted on this board. Thus the censoring of my message…more of the same from the BSA.

    So, to the censor who can’t handle reading the truth, know this. This is exactly why the BSA will become irrelevant…you refuse to listen to and address the real problems that exist within the BSA.

    Goodbye.

    • Bryan Wendell // February 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm // Reply

      I haven’t rejected any comments on this post so far. Though occasionally I can’t approve every comment immediately.

  52. Sources:
    http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810947.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

    Notes:

    424,315 fatalities in any sort of vehicle from 1997 to 2006 – of those, 714 were in 15-passenger vans.

    570 of the 714 fatalities were not wearing seat belts. (83%)

    So, in this decade, I assume the vehicles being driven were primarily in that pre-2005 era. A total of 118 people died that were wearing their seat belts in a 15-passenger van in 10 years.

    My conclusion:

    Sorry, but this whole thing stinks of lawyers and politics. I’m aware I’m not being sensitive to the individuals who lost limbs, lives, etc, but we just can’t bubble wrap ourselves into safety.

    As has been pointed out several times already, the focus here should be on the training of the driver, not the vehicle being driven. BSA, you got this one wrong.

    • Dave, see my note above. You are playing fast and loose with the stats. Odometer readings matter. You need to figure in the risk per miles driven. Big vans are driven a lot less, so the 714 fatalities come after far fewer driving miles than counts with with other vehicles.

      Plus fatalities and roll-overs are two different things. Yes, everyone should buckle up, that’s we survive roll-overs. But it won’t do much for most side collisions at full speed (among other types of accidents). So your choice in stats includes a bunch of things that vehicle selection won’t prevent.

      Yes, certain vehicles require qualified drivers, but if the odds of reduced rollover in the absence of stability control were greatly improved with CDL drivers, we can expect BSA to require it. That’s what it did with chain-saw and wilderness first aid training. That should be proof enough that if training makes a tremendous difference, BSA will buy in.

      But, maybe I’m too trusting. Feel free to prove me wrong. Find the stat that tells you the rate of roll-overs per million driving miles per vehicle type. (Gravy if you find one that shows how odds change if the driver is trained.) If it contradicts the stat in Bryan’s original post, then you have a story.

      • q, “feel free to prove you wrong” ?????? Why should Dave or I prove a negative? Shouldn’t the statistical evidence for the ban have been plain as day from the get go? It’s not. There should be multiple studies backing this position up and in detail. Instead, there were some vague “3x” comparisons in Bryan’s post but we have already provided more than enough data to call that into question, especially the link showing that vans with LOW occupancy account for the vast majority of wrecks, rollovers, and fatalities. If increased occupancy were the issue, it ought to be apparent without mileage because the data population is very,very small. The burden here, is on the folks who made the rule.

        NHTSA keeps talking about tire pressure and condition, driver habits, skill, and fatigue, use of restraints by all occupants. There are several studies about footprint size and gross weight and no evidence that reducing them reduces fatality or injury per VMT.

        BTW, if you want to discuss fatalities per vehicle miles driven, you’d have to show that those 15 passengers that are now split into 3 or 4 vehicles have a injury and fatality VMT is that is 3 to 4x smaller than the van. As I pointed out earlier, that statistical burden can’t be overcome. See for yourself.

        http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812034.pdf

        And the “nail in the coffin” is in that report also:

        “van occupant fatalities dropped 47 percent” over a recent 6 year period. Wow.

        • Thanks for the awesome reference.
          Which, I think makes BSA’s point, that as stability control (which the report specifically references on p. 9) permeated the market since 2005, fatalities plummeted.
          Furthermore, the greater reduction in rollovers was from light trucks and vans. Now, maybe that was because a concerted effort was made nationwide to train anybody who stepped behind the wheel of a light truck or van, or maybe drivers just wised up on their own.
          But, maybe, just maybe, new vans and trucks are now harder to roll.

        • http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/RecLetters/H02_29.pdf is a recommendation to manufacturers that sums up several studies, including this 2001 analysis http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/01-030.PDF from which we get the “3-fold” increased risk figure.

  53. Does the BSA general counsel not realize that they are making the scouts less safe. According to “the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants are three times more likely to roll over than ones carrying fewer than five passengers.” This means if I want to replace a 15-passenger Van with 4-passenger vehicles I would need three of them just for the minimum of 10 passengers, meaning it would be the same risk. Now if more than 12 passengers are to be transported then a fourth vehicle would be required statically making the 4-passenger vehicles a higher risk. Also consider that each vehicle would require two adults (unless passengers and driver are all from the same family) that further decreases the number of scouts per vehicle and needing more vehicles to meet this requirement. That equals even more risk.

    Logistically the problem of finding enough drivers, co-drivers and vehicles to meet such a requirement has already been well stated in other comments.

    The statement that “it’s a fact that adults who are used to driving their SUV or passenger car often overestimate their skills when it comes to driving a 15-passenger van.” I would like to see the source on this supposed fact due to the fact that a CDL is required to drive a 15-passenger vehicle.

    The financial burden this policy will put on scouts, parents and local organization will only hurt the scouts. Facts show this will not make scouting safer so who is it this policy suppose to help?

    • Steve, I understand your frustration with having to come up with at least two vehicles to replace what used to be just one. Hopefully a couple of volunteers with six- or nine- passenger vehicles will step forward.

      But, you never needed more than one adult per vehicle. You are applying the two-deep rule for overnights, when for most transport scenarios the no-one-on-one-contact rule applies. Multiple youth with one adult in a public setting is just fine.

      Two drivers in two mini-vans has worked well for us. My only regret is the extra info needed when filing the tour plan.

      Let your SPL’s and ASPL’s ride shotgun. Those are the better scoutmaster conferences.

    • Steve,

      First, CDL are not required to drive a 15-passenger vehicle in all states.

      Secondly, you are misapplying the two-deep leadership rule for vehicles. Two-deep leadership is required for every trip/outing, not for every vehicle, room. situation, or interaction. No one-on-one contact ever, but you don’t need to have two adults joined at the hip at all times! An adult with 3 to 4 youth in the car is 100% acceptable (as long as another adult is on the trip and you’re following a trip plan). Scouts can meet with a merit badge councilor with no other adults present (as long as they have a buddy…again, no one-on-one contact)… and you can even have a troop meeting (or any other non-outing/trip/overnight) with just one adult present (as long as there are multiple youth present, again no one-on-one). The Youth Protection Guidelines specifically state (and I quote): “If you cannot provide two adults for each vehicle, the minimum required is one adult and two or more youth members—never one on one.”

      Thirdly, I agree that adding more vehicles to the road doesn’t decrease the risk. If cars are 3 times less likely to roll than vans, so you simply replace each van with 3 cars, you haven’t decreased the risk at all! (That’s just simple math).

      Fourthly, there wouldn’t be such an outcry over the financial burden if we had more than 6 months to budget, save and adapt.

  54. Our troop has a 2002 3/4 Ton Chevy van. It has seating for 15, but on the window sticker that was in it when purchased, it said 12 passenger seating. Is that going to pass ? It is also listed on the registration as a truck.
    Tim R

    • Count the seats. A Scout is Trustworthy. Check the tag permit. In some states, the VIN is defined by the way it came from the factory, not how the coach builder finished with it. Sometimes. If it started out life as a 3/4 stake body frame, that may be how it is licensed. Check with your State DMV or police. Or, it may have been “nudged” a little when it was originally licensed to avoid a bigger fee. Or the salesman may have been arithmetically challenged. Count the seats. Talk with your insurance person. CDL is required for 16 TOTAL seats, counting the driver. 15 and less (7 2seat benches and the driver), only a license for the gross weight, class B? Or D? Check with your State Police.

      Good Scouting to you!

  55. I think there would be less disagreements about this if the timeline was stretched out over a 2-3 year period so Troops had some time to make the adjustment.

    Even the school districts in our state was given a 3 year notice that they would be phasing out the use of 15 passenger vans. This gave them adequate time to purchase vehicles without the finical burden. (This is how we got our Scout van)

    How do they justify the short time span of Sept 1st? Why the big rush?

    The cost of a 2005 or newer van is still some major $$ for me that I cannot afford. I’m sure that most of the Scout vans out there are older in age as that is what people can afford. Who has an extra $10,000-$13,000 around to spend on a newer van? More used vans with the newer Electronic Stability Control will become more affordable in a few more years as van rental companies or schools phase theirs out.

    This will really have an immediate impact on our Troop and their activities. This will increase the number of vehicles driven and the cost will go up for the scouts.

    Please give us more time to make the transition.

    • Exactly, Rob! Why did they give us less than 200 days notice on this change?!?!

      If it is truly a serious safety concern then we should all stop using these vans immediately… not be waiting until September to stop! (Sorry, summer camps or troops with camp outs next weekend, but safety first…right?).

      But if these vans are still safe enough to use in July and August of this year, what’s the harm in allowing us to keep using them in September or October too? Why is September 1st the line drawn in the sand? And why so soon (yet not immediate) with no prior warning? Give us a little more time to adapt (and budget) for this switch! 12-36 months seems fair, not 6 months! Van’s aren’t cheap, and most 2015 budgets have already been set (our council budget is set for 2015, so we won’t be able to buy a new van until at least Jan 1st… so what do we do in Sept-Dec?). Please reconsider the implementation of this new rule.

      • It is very frustrating that we only have 195 days to adapt to this new rule (with a potential $20,000 decision on the table). What’s even more frustrating is that we don’t even know the exact details of the new rule yet (yet the clock keeps ticking and September 1 gets closer and closer).

        We want to be prepared (as our motto says) and we want to make smart and informed decisions (we don’t want to buy a new van if we don’t actually need to, we don’t want to buy the “wrong” type of van, we don’t want to waist time or money on “solutions” that won’t actually satisfy the new standards, etc.) yet we don’t even know the actual details of the new rules! Many legitimate questions have been raised here, yet no responses (besides Bryan’s “This is all the info I have right now.”)

        Bryan, please (please, please, please!) do a follow-up ASAP and get some direct answers from the BSA officials to the many questions and concerns raised in the comments section here. Please be helpful (as the Scout Law says) and provide the critical information so that we can be obedient (also as the Scout Law says) of these new policies.

        September 1 will be here soon, we don’t want to rush at the last minute and make poor decisions, we don’t want to make early assumptions based on lack of information and make the wrong decisions, nor do we want to be stuck without any good options or solutions come the fall because we waited around too long for the BSA to communicate what’s required here.

  56. *sigh* I was the “designated driver” (I had a class B license) for the American Youth Hostel Council ’round here in Murlin. The fellow that had responsibility for keeping up the van we used (Ford , E450?? indeterminate year, waaaay back in 1970’s)would drive if I wasn’t available, but he kept after the oil changes and such. It sat 12 with cargo space in the back. And a home made rack on top, covered the length of the van. Clam shell doors on the right side. Load up for a trip on the Shenandoah: Me, ten teens (not Scouts), gear&packs, and five(5!) Grumman aluminum 17′ canoes lashed to the roof rack. maybe 200 miles one way, over the Skyline Drive. We’d arrange to meet the trip leaders at the camp, I only drove the take out and pick up.
    Ah, those were the days. Drove careful ’cause I didn’t know any better.

  57. Our church has a 2001 Dodge Ram 15 passenger van which our insurance company (Church Mutual) would not insure until we had a RoadMaster Active Suspension anti-roll modification installed. Would this make any difference in our ability to use for Scouting purposes?

  58. H. David Pendleton // February 20, 2015 at 7:38 am // Reply

    I haven’t read every entry, but my input is why the wait until 1 September 2015 to implement the policy? If these vans are dangerous for our Scouts now, why are we going to let Scouts ride in them for the next 5 months? What happens if there are accidents in the next 5 months, what will be the BSA response? “Well, we were getting ready to ban them.” I’m sure that the family of the Scouts or Scouters injured or killed are not going to feel good that a future policy was to take place.

    • No. If it is pre-2005 you cannot use it, per the article.

  59. I personally own one of theses vans and have studied the issues with safety. Loading and bad design are the main problems with these vans. Keeping the fuel tank full adds weight to the center of gravity. If loaded to much in the rear the front suspension can’t keep enough of the wheels on the ground and control at high speeds is a problem. There is a company that makes a kit to make the rear end a dually, and there for removing the danger of a roll over on a j-turn. Always inspect the tire pressure as well.I have also removed the rear seat and limit the passenger to 8. I have a big family! Just because it’s big does not make it safe wear seat belts at all times. Most deaths from this vehicle are from ejected passengers.

  60. Look at the licensing requirements for these vehicles unless you have a Passenger endorsement on your license you are not allowed to haul anybody but your family. Even if is not for hire. Has been alot of changes in recent years. Pay close attention. to details

  61. Take the online Defensive Driving course mentioned above. Obey the speed limit. Keep right, except to pass, when safe to do so, and MAKE SURE it’s safe. Don’t be in a hurry, the camp isn’t going anywhere. Use the 2 second rule rather than the “car length” idea as to following distance: See the prior vehicle pass that crack in the pavement? Count “ONE thousand, TWO thousand”, then you pass the crack. At any speed (any speed!) this will give you space to react and stop if you see the prior vehicle have a problem… On second thought, if you are driving a van full of Scouts, make that THREE seconds.
    Look beyond the car ahead, not just infront of your bumper. Make sure they see you. Avoid distractions, use that SC Scout as a navigator to read the map. Use him to answer the cellphone. Do Not “convoy”, arrange to meet up every so often at the next Burger King….
    Do your circle check (Pre Trip Inspection) just like the big boys: Check the oil, tires, wipers, make sure everything works BEFORE you load up and move out, like the day before? Remind yourself how big this rig is.
    Set some rules: No “aisle surfing”, no big noises, screams mean someone is hurt, and you will pull over to investigate.
    Have a nice day…..

  62. I dont mind checking all those things, and will, but will any of them make any difference ? Once a 15 passenger van alwayse a 15 passenger van. This article states all 15 passenger vans period. There are many different kinds of vans. Is this an across the board decision with no exceptions ?

  63. Webelos & Scout Parent // February 24, 2015 at 11:23 pm // Reply

    What about the use of a school bus type of bus that seats about 30-40? It is owned by a committee member, but would that matter if it was owned by a private party, or a parent?

  64. All 15 passenger vans are not equal. The Chevrolet 3500 is built on a 1 ton frame. Ford and Chrysler build theirs on a 1/2 or 3/4 ton frame. They just add on an extra piece in the back to extent the interior for the extra seat. The wheel base is not changed. The picture in this article is one of those vans. I purchased a 1999 Chevrolet 3500 Express Van over the other companies because it is designed from the ground up to be a safe 15 passenger 1 ton van. Additionally, in today MSN report there are a lot of passenger cars 2 and 4 door that are prone to roll over and killing the occupants in a single or multi vehicle collision. If the BSA is going to recommend not using a specific vehicle for transporting Scouts, then the BSA should complete the analysis and ban all vehicles that have a poor safety record. Either do the job correctly, or don’t do it at all.

    • I agree with you completely, I believe it just looks worse on paper and news footage to see 10 people killed in a van rollover compared to 2 or 3 in a car. Statically cars have had more deaths compared to vans. Planes are safer than cars, but planes kill 200+ at a time and that’s newsworthy, not the car accident I passed on the way to work. It’s human perspective.

  65. My biggest issue with this has to be the lack of communication. Our council put the message on the Council Website under “Council News”. The only reason I even found out about it was a scouter posted about it on Linked In.

    I would expect that if this is such an issue, mention would have been made at RT, or something from our UC, USE, DE or someone. No one has ever asked me if our unit uses one of these vehicles to transport scouts. There has been no survey sent to me to ask about how we transport; vehicle type, age, passenger numbers, etc.

    Someone posted above about how he is the COR, and the CO provides transportation. Sorry, that is not the real world. I live in a small, blue collar community. Quite a few of my parents are still trying to recover from the recession. MY CO is a small VFW Post; they can’t afford to provide us with transportation. None of our parents have a 15 passenger vehicle, so this doesn’t directly effect us; yet. However, when I plan my annual canoe trip, I now have to ask the canoe livery if they will be transporting us in 15 passenger vans, unless I’m reading it wrong. As people have said, how about summer camps?

    I have also seen a lot of people say you need a CDL for a 15 passenger van; maybe in their state, but in MI, you only need a Chauffeur’s endorsement for these vehicles, if you are being paid to drive it, or it is a commercial vehicle. You do not need any special license until it holds 16 people; driver + passengers.

    I’m all for keeping the scouts safe, but if we price the program out of reach of the youth and their families, we don’t have a program. There are better ways. I don’t know if they looked at it, but have the Councils arrange an in-person training at a council office. Provide the participants who pass with a code that can be entered on the electronic tour permit when they say they are driving one of these vehicles; no code and the permit is not approved. Make the Tour Permit required for ALL outings; no permit, no insurance coverage. Lie about the vehicles, no coverage.

  66. Don’t know the van is to blame…the BSA even admits in the article what the problem is…

    FTA: Why the rule?

    First, it’s a fact that adults who are used to driving their SUV or passenger car often overestimate their skills when it comes to driving a 15-passenger van.

    • If it is a problem with driving skils, why not just require the driver to have a CDL.
      Put the blame where it belongs instead of making something up.

    • I have watch this forum go on and on since the first response to the initial posting. In my opinion, only a few have seen the real solution. If you provide the best vehicle possible and an unskilled driver, tragedy quite possibly awaits. Adversely, a dilapidated vehicle in the hands of a skilled driver doesn’t mean that an accident won’t occur but the odds are resoundingly in the scouts’ favor. The skilled driver will know what to look for in the vehicle. It’s all about the training.

      BSA has lived by the motto that every scout deserves a trained leader. This is no different. That is why many vehicle rental services will not rent a large van – 15 passenger or larger – for liability purposes and the only recourse is to use a service which provides chauffeurs. We will be using these large vans to transport scouts for the upcoming summer camp we travel to but as Outdoor Chair, I will cancel the van reservations if I don’t think the drivers have the experience and capabilities to sit in the driver’s seat. Luckily, we have that resource. Train the drivers as you would any other leader.

  67. Ive spoke with and emailed National Council numerous times about the banning of 15 passenger vans and have not shown me any policy on this topic.
    They refer me to scouting magazines blog…
    Until they send me the written policy this nonsense will be ignored.
    An Organization should be just that….organized.

    • Tim Riordan // April 8, 2015 at 12:32 pm // Reply

      Thank you Brian ,
      That’s been the first sensible thing I’ve heard since this mess started.

  68. kevinoverholt68 // April 8, 2015 at 5:10 pm // Reply

    I have been a Scout leader for over 10 years. We have attended Summer Camp, been to Seabase, and monthly campouts in our church’s Dodge Van. My question is how will they stop you from using one? Yes, I can see where they can require the Council’s to upgrade their vans (not sure where the money will come from, but that is a whole other issue), but how can they tell me, a volunteer, what I can drive? If you show up for a District or Council event in one of these vans, will they not let you participate? that seems to be a slippery slope to start down. I imagine they will no longer cover travel as a unit if you are driving one of these vans. As I noted above in the comments, nothing “official” has come down from National that I have seen.

    • I am rhe owner of a 15-passenger 2004 Chevy express WITH stabilitrack, and 10 captains chairs instead of benches for shoulder belts for all, yet I won’t be able to drive mine either.

      The way I see it, we can use our vans as private family vehicles for any event, but any vehicle that is used for non-family members, such as carpooling to a monthly camp out, must be registered with the tour permit, and that’s how they’d be able to refuse the tour permit at the council level. I still have seen nothing from council except whateve read quoted in this article.

  69. Anything from National yet?

  70. I am a scout master. I have a 15 passenger 2005 Chevy Express 3500 with electronic stability control. It’s our main family transportation and the main transportation for our small troop and sometimes a couple other small troops. Under the new rules, this vehicle is still allowed, but the first time I heard about this was in passing at a scout activity this week. I attend every round table. I had to do an Internet search to find the details. If my vehicle was older and the first time I heard about it was when I couldn’t use it for scouts any more I would have been a bit upset. How are we communicating this to the troops and advisors?

    • Elizabeth // May 11, 2015 at 6:06 pm // Reply

      I am the owner of. 15 passenger, remodeled to hold 10 captain’s chairs all with shoulder belts, stabilitrack, but a 2004. I attend all round tables and have also heard nothing about this change. I have mentioned it to my sons’ troop, as we have used it for camp outs, but no one in the troop committee has heard of this. I should npmentupion it to my DE.

  71. For a number of years, I owned a 12-passenger van. I kinda miss it, now. Should I save my coins, and look for some disgruntled Scouter to sell his 15-passenger van at a ‘bargain basement’ price?

  72. I have a large troop (40+ with 5 patrols). Even thought we don’t get all scouts camping at once, we often have 28-30 on a trip, including 4-5 adult leaders. Our co-charter owns two pre 2005 14 passenger vans that we use to bring the scouts camping. The charter org does not have the funds to purchase new vans at this moment. If we have to bring the scouts in private vehicles (assuming an average of 3 scouts per vehicle), it will take 7-10 vehicles to transport the scouts. Since we need adults driving the cars, I will need additional adults as drivers, resulting in fewer scouts on the campout. We already have trouble in many place3s we go trying to park two large vans. Now we will have to find places to park 7-10 cars! I only see this good intentions with the unintended consequences of smaller troops, fewer scouts, fewer outings (can’t get the necessary # of adults and drivers).

    • JMR – Light up the phones in your council: District Chairman, District Executive, Council Scout Executive, and Council President. Demand assistance. BSA signed a contract with your charter org at the beginning of the year. Now, they have changed it. Ask them how you are supposed to maintain JTE performance, not to mention the experience the kids are getting, by complying with this new rule.

    • Joseph Langkilde // May 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm // Reply

      Have Faith and go to work. Things can and will work out.

  73. So, now that it’s September 1st, and this “policy” is now in affect, Can someone point me to the actual policy from National, and not just a blog about it? And, can someone explain, using this actual policy, what it means if you ignore it?

    • Bryan Wendell // September 1, 2015 at 10:04 am // Reply

      Here’s the link to the Guide to Safe Scouting, which includes the rule.

      If you ignore it, the Guide to Safe Scouting says, you risk “there being no BSA GLIP insurance coverage available in the event of an accident.”

    • Joseph Langkilde // September 1, 2015 at 2:37 pm // Reply

      I found the following article on scouting.org: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss11.aspx

  74. Where is the general publicity about this. I attend every Round Table and there has never, I repeat never, been a public announcement, or printed word. I think National abandons common sense when they board the elevators to their offices in the ivory tower.

  75. I have seen many boyscout camp vehicles (non 15 passenger vans), I mean owned by the council that were in such a deplorables condition (example, the shock completely gone) that scares me a lot more than 15 passenger vehicles that are driven in a responsible way.

  76. The troop my son belongs to continues to use its 15-passenger van (15 years old) in spite of this ruling by National. I drove older vans for most of my career as a professional outdoor guide all over the USA from 1986 until 2004, on hundreds of trips ranging from 2-3 day weekends to 35-day expeditions. FACT: The older vans are NOT as safe. They don’t handle as well when you have to perform an emergency maneuver, and are much more prone to roll-over or be involved in devastating off-axis front crashes, or rear end collisions. Asking my son’s troop adult leaders and the scout master about the older van in use yielded a “I did not know that” response, and a “but we have our own insurance policy.”

    So perhaps it does not really matter what National states is policy. It seems that Adult Scout Leaders will do what they want, when they want, and argue not to be bothered with safety requirements if they don’t agree with them, or can rationalize them away. Wow. Really? You have got to love the comments asking for proof that older vans are not as safe as newer ones, and remember we are talking about older than 2005. Driving is the most dangerous thing your kid or you will EVER do, unless your kid goes on to serve in an SF or front-line combat unit or becomes a police officer, firefighter, smoke jumper or logger. It sounds like most of you guys would have scouts riding in the back bed of open pickup trucks at freeway speeds if you could get away with it, and then you would brag about doing it. What do you guys think this teaches the boys when you decide to blissfully do your own thing, or only follow the rules when it is convenient for you or when you decide to agree with them? You think that teaches them independence or creativity or self reliance? Fine example you are setting for the boys. Fine, shining example. And they WILL grow up to be just like you. They will ignore the rules they don’t agree with (lie if caught), cheat (if they think they can get away with it), and cut corners on a job in every way they feel they can exploit a situation. And they will have learned it in scouting directly from watching you and in spite of the fine program that Scouting is capable of representing. You actions will always speak louder to the boys than the Scout Oath and Law. Congratulations.

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