Part one: Are Crown Victorias safe for Florida officers to drive?

The Palm Beach Post published an interesting article that suggests the Ford Crown Victoria, a popular vehicle choice for law enforcement across the country, is not a safe vehicle when it comes to high-speed, rear-end collisions. Unfortunately, working in law enforcement puts many Florida troopers at risk of being involved in these types of car accidents, and many of our state’s officers are driving Ford Crown Victorias.

The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has been widely used by law enforcement in the United States because of the vehicle’s spacious front and back seats, the vehicle’s ability to withstand harsh driving conditions such as jumping curbs and the vehicle’s power, which is necessary for chasing speeders, responding to calls and chasing suspects of crimes.

However, the Palm Beach Post reported that Ford apparently knew about a safety hazard regarding the Crown Victoria since the 1960s that has contributed to the deaths of several officers throughout the years.

Since the 1960’s, Ford was aware that the placement of the vehicle’s gas tank may not have been in the safest location on the car. The gas tank is placed behind the rear axle of the vehicle, but this makes the tank vulnerable to rupturing in the event of a rear-end collision. If the tank does rupture, an explosion could occur if leaking gas comes in contact with a single spark.

Florida officers, as well as officers across the nation, are likely to be involved in high-speed, rear-end collisions because of the nature of their work. Officers pull other motorists over every day, and if other drivers do not move over far enough from the stopped cop car, a rear-end collision could all too easily occur.

The study conducted in the 1960’s suggested that Ford place the gas tank above the rear axle of the Crown Victoria, but Ford has never adopted the idea. Ford now argues that the Crown Victoria is designed to protect the gas tank from rupturing in the event of a rear-end collision, and Ford also offers a fire system that can be installed in the vehicle to suppress a fire if the tank does rupture.

However, even with the fire system and the newly designed Crown Victorias, many officers have died after their police car was rear-ended and exploded in flames. We will continue this discussion later this week focusing on the death of one Florida Highway Patrol trooper in particular.

Source:The Palm Beach Post: “Popular police cars Crown Victorias prone to explode, tied to deaths,” Pat Beall, 5 June 2011