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

Earlier this week, our Miami personal injury lawyers blog began discussing an interesting article published by the Palm Beach Post. The article suggests that the Ford Crown Victoria is an unsafe vehicle when it comes to high-speed, rear-end collisions. As a result, many Florida officers, as well as other law enforcement across the nation, are at a greater risk of being injured in these types of car accidents.

The placement of the vehicle’s gas tank makes the vehicle prone to going up in flames if the tank is ruptured in a collision. Because officers pull over individuals on a daily basis and may have to chase down speeders, they are likely to be involved in rear-end collisions caused by other drivers who are not paying attention. Since the gas tank is located behind the rear-axle of the vehicle, it could easily rupture in these types of collisions.

Since 1983, at least 30 police officers have been killed in crashes after their Crown Victoria Police Interceptors caught fire and exploded. Five of those deaths involved Florida law enforcement.

Just last year a Florida trooper was killed. The 35-year-old-man was sitting on the side of the road in his Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. The trooper was just about to end his shift when his vehicle was suddenly rear-ended by a black Lexus. Witnesses said that the cop car immediately burst into flames, killing the officer inside.

Although Ford has known about the dangerous placement of the gas tank, the auto company argues that the vehicle is designed to protect the gas tank as best as possible and other vehicle accessories are available to officers to enhance the safety of their vehicles including fire suppressants.

The Florida officer killed last year did have a fire suppressant installed in his vehicle. Unfortunately, the safety system failed.

Ford claims that the company can’t guarantee that the anti-fire system will work in high-speed crashes. The company did conduct a study that proved that the system does work, but only when the gas tank has less than two gallons of gas in the tank. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, officers are trained to keep their gas tanks full.

Ford does plan to end production of the Crown Victoria this year. The automaker will focus on promoting the Ford Taurus for law enforcement.

According to the Palm Beach Post, there are currently 1,714 Crown Victorias being used by law enforcement in South Florida’s six largest cities. One trooper who drives a Crown Victoria is well aware of the dangers of being involved in a rear-end collision. “I spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror,” he said.

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