This is a typical Ford E350 15-Passenger Van. There are somewhere around a quadrillion of these things on the road. I’m not sure of how many zeroes that is, but I’m sure that it is a lot and I’m pretty sure that is an accurate number.
You might be asking yourself: Why are there so many of these vans on the road? The answer is simple. These things are an engineering marvel! They are built like tanks, out-handle and out-perform similar offerings from other manufacturers, and they last forever if they are properly maintained. I can vouch for this because I by my estimation, I have drive somewhere around 500,000 miles in these vans.
Another interesting fact about the E350 platform is that the vast majority of ambulances in the United States are built on this platform. In fact, all they do to the chassis to make it ambulance-ready is change the rear axle to dual wheels. The E350 is simply one of the most amazing and reliable vehicles ever built.
Now, here is the central question: Why am I singing the praises of this vehicle? Am I a paid endorser? No, I just wanted to do a little bit to help clear the name of this much maligned vehicle.
You must realize that this van has taken a beating in the press over the last decade because of school and camp related accidents where students were badly injured or killed. The press loves to blame the vehicle, saying that it is a poor design and that the chassis wasn’t designed to handle that kind of weight or weight distribution.
I’m here to tell you that those accusations are simply inaccurate. The E350 chassis is built just like the F350 and is capable of payloads that make it carry just as much weight as if it were towing the largest of travel trailers. These vans could carry 15 passengers made of lead and they would still ride and handle well. Well, that is unless one thing happens….an idiot gets behind the wheel.
Oh yes, it is now time to get the facts straight. Idiot drivers are to blame for these wrecks; not the E350. You must realize, there is this simple equation that comes into effect when you take an object and give it speed: Mass x Velocity = Momentum. Most people seem to like to ignore physics, but trust me…Physics is the law. Physics doesn’t pull you over and write you a ticket for a violation. No sir, Physics skips right to the judgment and sentencing phase when you screw up. Physics is the real world equivalent of Judge Dredd.
The fact is that an E350 is a huge passenger platform that drives as easily as a typical SUV and so people get behind the wheel and forget that they have 14 other lives in the vehicle with them. The problem is that drivers of these vans need to take that responsibility very seriously and many of them don’t. When that happens, you get what I witnessed this morning on the way to work.
Three camp vans passed me that were obviously on the way to the airport to do what is known in the business as an “airport run” to drop off last program’s students and pick up the students for the next one. The problem being that those vans passed me at all. I was running somewhere in the neighborhood of 74 miles per hour when those vans passed me like I was standing still. If any of those vans had a blow out in one of the front tires, the result would have been tragic; if it were either of the front two, it would have been a multiple vehicle catastrophe.
There was little more that two car lengths between each van and they were running around 85 miles per hour. I’m sure that if they wrecked that the news media would brand it “another 15 passenger van accident”, when what the really ought to do is let everyone know that it was merely physics passing judgment on criminal driving decisions.