University to eliminate large van rentals

Nathan Havenner

Safety concerns have led Kent State to eliminate the large 12- and 15-passenger vans from its fleet of vehicles.

“After looking at the history of these vehicles across the country, we realized the vehicles had a higher-than-average rollover probability,” said Tom Euclide, associate vice president of facilities planning and operations.

Regardless of the manufacture, these vehicles have some safety issues concerning the body and the frame of the vehicle. It was not a difficult move for the university to make, Euclide said.

Roy Christian, director of operations for University Facilities Management, said that students renting these vehicles were required to take a test to make sure they could safely operate them. The UFM website states that students can rent the vehicles, but only if they plan to use them on “official university business” and only after completing a safety course.

“That had been in place for some time,” Christian said. “Driving those vans requires an understanding of blind spots and how to park.”

Christian said it was not a surprise when he was notified that the vans would not be an option for students in the future.

“Kent State kept them longer than most large universities,” he said. “Most eliminated them seven to 10 years ago.”

The 12- and 15-passenger vans were popular among students because it was the only vehicle between a minivan and a small bus, Christian said.

Student media manager Lori Cantor, said students from student media have never rented these vehicles because of their high rate of rollovers.

“There has always been talk of the high rollover incidents,” Cantor said. “If students need to travel and they can’t all fit in one car we would rather they take two or three cars.”

Fleet Services Darwin Friend, said the move by the university will not have much of an effect on the Fleet Services department.

“It doesn’t affect us,” Friend said. “We arrange the rentals for everyone else through an outside source.”

The university worked with Enterprise Rent-a-Car to provide the vans to students, Christian said. Despite the loss, Christian said that eliminating these large vehicles from the fleet of rental options actually decreases the workload on University Facilities Management.

“This eases our workload because we had to make sure the person passed our test,” he said. “This gives us a little breathing room.”

Christian said Kent State has not had a major accident involving 12- and 15-passenger vans. However other universities have had fatal accidents involving these vehicles.

Eliminating the vans from the fleet was safety-motivated and something Kent State was going to have to do at some point, Christian said.

Contact Nathan Havenner at [email protected].