HOUSTON – Experts have had serious safety concerns about the type of van involved a crash that injured 16 children from a Harris County day care.
Those concerns were enough that federal law bans school districts from using 15-passenger vans to transport students.
Safety experts warn that the large vans are prone to rolling over.
In 2006, the National Transportation Safety Board issued an alert saying that the vans were three times more likely to roll over when filled with more than 10 people.
The NTSB warned that the vans should never be overloaded. Yet investigators say there were 18 people inside the 15-passenger van operated by Alpha Kids Center day care.
In the report, the NTSB also recommended that drivers of 15-passenger vans get additional training to handle the vehicles.
Texas law does not require day care drivers to get that training. However, neighboring states, like Oklahoma, do require it for anyone driving one of the vans for a day care.
The KHOU I-Team has been reporting on safety concerns with the large vans since 2005. That’s when we found day cares across the city using the vans to take kids to and from schools, despite safety warnings from federal agencies.
The I-Team wanted to know whether Conception Coronado, the driver involved in the Alpha Kids crash, received additional training.
However, the day care’s director, Darryl Freeman, did not return phone messages left for her at both Alpha Kids and her home.
Both Coronado and Freeman are charged with criminal negligence stemming from the crash.
Records indicate Coronado did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident.