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Old 07-26-2013, 08:39 PM
 
8,495 posts, read 6,980,190 times
Reputation: 6519
Default How hard is it to drive a 12 passenger van?

We are renting a vehicle to take a 1200+ mile round trip family road trip, seven people (all adults), and my husband thinks to allow for luggage and extra passengers part of the trip (visiting family), we should rent a 12 passenger van. The biggest vehicle I have ever driven was a minivan, and that was fine. Frankly, I'm scared to drive something that big, but I will definitely have to drive a lot of the trip.

When you rent a 12 passenger van from a rental agency, is it a conversion van, or just a van that hasn't been modified at all? I guess that would depend; just wondered if anyone had ever rented one and knew.

I'm just SCARED. Especially since part of the driving will be somewhat in the mountains and the extra weight and never handling anything that big scares me. And I already had a dream that we went tumbling down the side of a mount in the van, and my last thought in the dream was that we all had our seat belts on. Then nothing.

If it were up to me I would rent a minivan to feel safer, but I know that wouldn't be a very comfortable ride for seven adults. And no, I wouldn't trust too many of the other people to drive, and will be renting the van in my name with one other driver.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:08 PM
 
Location: AZ
4,978 posts, read 5,981,490 times
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Usually you just get a 12 or 15 passenger van with rows of seats like the airport shuttles use.

They're not "difficult" to drive, but 12/15 passenger vans, especially the 15 passenger variety, have been the subject of special NTSB and NHTSA studies, because they have a higher rollover rate and higher fatality rate than other vehicles, and are frequently found to have underinflated tires (this might apply to all cars but the vans have a higher center of gravity so the potential impact of a blowout is worse).

There are other factors (overloading, driver inexperience, etc) that play into the risk associated with these vehicles. You can find out more by googling "NHTSA 15 passenger van" and "NTSB 15 passenger van". Also, later models with stability control are less likely to roll, but some of the inherent risks still exist. Pretty much anythign you get from a major rental fleet is going to be a later model with the advanced safety features.

Obviously if you check the tire pressure, don't overload it (not likely with only 7 people) and drive carefully, you'll be fine. There are tons of these vans on the road doing airport shuttle service and that sort of thing, and they drive hundreds of thousands of miles. The crashes are usually college sports teams, church groups, and that sort of thing, where maybe the van doesn't get used much or maintained well, and the drivers are not experienced, maybe tired, the vehicles can be overloaded, and people don't wear their seat belts.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:19 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW / CO / SA TX / Thailand
10,900 posts, read 17,967,210 times
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Get a GM 12 passenger van. The FORD has a long tail (extending over rear axle) They are unstable and accident prone (especially when driven by tired / distracted teenage camp counsellors).

Even weight distribution and reasonable speeds and clear roads are your friend. (and being alert). They are not hard to drive, but carrying that many people (or any driving...) is a responsibility to not be taken lightly. Slow down, be cautious, no sudden jerking of the steering wheel, or heavy braking. Take mtn down hill roads SLOWER than going up, and feather / jab brakes or use tranny in lower gear on STEEP downhills.

Follow the Smith Driving Rules 5 smith rules of driving
Know them, review them, teach them to your kids and spouse.
Add additional liability and / or umbrella coverage. (be sure this extends to rental vehicle, as well as 'loss-of-use' for rental agency. It is about $5/month additional rider to your auto policy. (or $20/ day at rental counter)
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Vermont / NEK
5,365 posts, read 8,540,320 times
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It's similar to renting a U-Haul truck. Most drivers have done it at some time without incident. larger vehicles like these have bigger mirrors - be sure to use them. It may take a few miles to get the feel of the vehicle, but you most certainly will. Have a safe trip!
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Northeast Tennessee
6,994 posts, read 14,097,409 times
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Not bad at all... no different than me driving my luxury cars that are nearly 20 ft. long. lol.
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:54 PM
 
621 posts, read 551,836 times
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EZ!

Remember to use your mirrors.
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:58 PM
 
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Okay, advice taken and appreciated. Still scared, though!! It's not so much driving down the highway that scares me, but in town and on mountains and well, if it needs to be backed up someone else will have to do it.
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Old 07-27-2013, 01:07 AM
 
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i have driven a number of large vehicles over the years, and i can tell you from experience that the hardest part about driving large vehicles is driving them in tighter areas. if you are attentive, you should have no issues. for instance, if you are parked, walk around the van before you get in and find out where everything is, and how much room you have to work with. once in the van, the hardest part is backing the van up as your visibility is limited, but again, take your time and keep an eye out, and use your mirrors regularly, as well as looking around as you back the van out of its parking space. as you gain experience with the van, it will become less and less intimidating.

and as with any vehicle, especially high centered ones, check the tire pressures regularly, and while driving dont make any sudden moves. on the freeway the biggest issue you will have to deal with is crosswinds, and the fact that sometimes they start and stop suddenly. be aware of this and avoid over correcting with the steering when it happens. if you are aware of things ahead of you as you drive, you will learn to make note of things that allow crosswinds to start and stop suddenly and you will be able to prepare yourself for when they do start/stop.
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Old 07-27-2013, 01:10 AM
 
3,188 posts, read 1,473,801 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luzianne View Post
Okay, advice taken and appreciated. Still scared, though!! It's not so much driving down the highway that scares me, but in town and on mountains and well, if it needs to be backed up someone else will have to do it.
What makes you think your being SCARED will not affect the safety of everyone...IT WILL..Friend until you gain confidence and experience driving the thing you shouldn't drive it..With 7 adults going no one but you can drive? I was a trained professional . How would you like for the person driving your kids school bus to be "SCARED"? Why are you even thinking about doing something so dangerous if you are scared and don't want to do it? How do you know that the 6 other people will not all be talking and distract you?
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Old 07-27-2013, 01:56 AM
Status: "Bi, black, goth, wiccan" (set 1 day ago)
 
Location: Louisville KY
980 posts, read 461,992 times
Reputation: 639
Stop being a wimp, its not even that big. Drive it like a minivan, its not a bus. The only thing about Econolines is they used the twin tortion beam front suspension that every other ford truck and suv dropped in 96. Get those mirrors where you need to be and remember that it wont handle as good as a minivan does.
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