June 27, 2002

Crown Victoria fuel tank fires prompt Ford to test new fuel bladder

Dearborn, Michigan – Concerns about the safety of the Ford Crown Victoria’s fuel tank in a rear-end collision have prompted the Ford Motor Company to study methods of preventing fuel tank explosions. Since 1998, three Arizona police officers have been killed in Crown Victoria Interceptor police cars after the police cars burst into flames when they were rear-ended at high speed. Since 1991, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received consumer complaints about 10 crashes, 10 fires, 8 fatalities, and 15 injuries involving the Crown Victoria. The Crown Victoria’s fuel tank is located between the rear bumper and rear axle.

Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano and Ford Motor Company Vice President Susan M. Cischke met in Detroit on Tuesday to announce the actions Ford will undertake to improve police officer safety in high-risk traffic patrol situations.

“Concrete steps forward were made today,” said Napolitano. “I’m pleased that Ford has agreed to partner with the law enforcement community to look at ways to reduce the number of high-speed collisions that can lead to fuel-fed fires.”

Napolitano and Cischke announced they will jointly oversee the following actions:

  • Formation of Technical Task Force: This group, comprised of Ford and selected outside experts from the military, racing and aviation industry, will begin immediate testing of Crown Victoria Police Interceptors (CVPIs) in ways that recognize the unique police use of this vehicle. Ford will test CVPIs equipped with fuel tank bladders, shielding and trunk packs with the goal of improving the crashworthiness of the CVPI. The first phase of testing should be completed within 30 to 90 days. The task force also will explore new technologies to advance the state of the art in materials science and fire prevention.
  • Formation of Blue Ribbon Panel: This panel will identify and publish best practices and recommendations to help avoid accidents and improve officer safety during traffic patrol situations. Ford will use its global reach to research best-in-class practices and work with the panel to look at such issues as ways to improve vehicle visibility, use of police cars as barriers, and police procedures during traffic stops. Napolitano and Ford will each appoint four members to serve on the panel. A ninth member will be the head of a Technical Task Force also announced today.
  • Enhanced communication: Ford will enhance existing communications channels with local law enforcement agencies to provide their access to accident data and research regarding officer and vehicle safety issues. Ford also will work with law enforcement agencies to gain immediate access to CVPIs following accidents as such information will improve Ford’s regular, ongoing monitoring of and analysis of real-world performance of CVPIs.

“This action plan represents a holistic approach to police officer safety by focusing on accident avoidance, vehicle crashworthiness and post-crash lessons learned,” Cischke said. “Ford is committed not only to making a safe car even safer, but to improving all aspects of police safety.”

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