Police in Austin, Texas, pulled more than 40 Ford Explorers from their fleet off the road after police officers fell ill, which is just one of the latest reports of growing concerns over these vehicles. The Ford Explorers were pulled after “half-dozen officers reported ill with carbon monoxide poisoning,” according to Yahoo News.
The officers on the Austin Police Department are not alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is aware of 2,700 complaints, which includes 41 injuries and three crashes. These complaints and accidents are “potentially linked to carbon monoxide poisoning” from the gas filling up the cabin of the Ford Explorer.
According to CBS News, the decision for the Austin Police Department to pull their entire fleet of Ford Explorers off the road came after two officers were found to have carbon monoxide in their blood when it was tested. This makes 20 officers who drive the Ford Explorers to have fallen ill.
The police chief in Austin said on Friday, “I stand here confident that we’re making the right decision today based on what we know with the carbon monoxide exposure issue that we’ve had and the impacts that it has had on our workforce.”
An officer in Henderson, Louisiana, crashed into a ditch after passing out behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer. At the hospital, the police department requested that a carbon monoxide poisoning test be administered to the officer since it is not a routine test. The carbon monoxide in the woman’s blood test was at “near lethal” levels.
According to NBC News, the Ford Explorer is a popular vehicle for police departments across the nation. This vehicle type makes up 61 percent of Austin’s fleet of patrol cars.
The NHTSA opened an initial investigation last year looking into more than 638,000 vehicles. The agency has now taken the neccessary step of upgrading the investigation, to the next level, which is the last step before they can move onto recalls of the Ford Explorers if the probe demonstrates this is needed to happen. The level is now elevated to what is called an “engineering analysis.”
The new probe will include an estimated 1.3 million Ford Explorers from model years 2011 to 2017. The NHTSA will investigate the reports of the exhaust fumes somehow leaking into the passenger cabin of the vehicle. A dashcam video captured a police officer who passed out behind the wheel from a 2015 incident. He passed out and crashed into a tree. Another dashcam video showed an officer getting sick and pulling over saying he needed to get some fresh air.
The 2,700 complaints registered with the NHTSA are linked to the Ford Explorer passenger cabin possibly filling up with carbon monoxide. Ford did “acknowledge there is some kind of problem.” They also said they’ve issued “numerous service bulletins” to Ford Explorer owners. Ford also indicated that they have a team working on the problems that have been reported and the team is working to solve them.
The injuries reported to the NHTSA include, “loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches, or light-headedness.” According to Yahoo, you would think that it would be rather easy to investigate whether the Ford Explorers’ passenger cabins are filling up with carbon monoxide or not.
This is far from an easy task as they need to take into consideration all the different driving variables involved, along with the different driving conditions. So far the NHTSA has “no substantive data or actual evidence…supporting a claim that any of the alleged injury or crash allegations were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning,” according to Yahoo News.
At this time, the NHTSA hasn’t issued any recalls or offered any guidance for the owners and drivers of Ford Explorers. Yahoo News does offer up one suggestion of their own. They suggest if you drive a Ford Explorer, “maybe think about driving with the windows down a little more.
[Featured Image by Boykov/Shutterstock]