— A Texas police department has yanked 60 Ford Explorer police vehicles off the streets after carbon monoxide detectors activated in all 60 SUVs.
The Austin Police Department says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been in town investigating multiple reports about officers getting sick while driving the SUVs.
City officials are considering taking about 400 of the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor SUVs completely off the roads until someone can determine what is causing the problems.
Pulling all the Explorers off the streets will put the police department in a bind as numerous other city vehicles will need to be brought in to replace the SUVs. However, Austin officials are not only concerned with the health of its officers, but wrecking a patrol vehicle can open the city to unwanted liabilities.
Austin police have been concerned about carbon monoxide after incidents were reported by officers while driving the SUVs. One officer claims he felt sick right before the Explorer hit a curb, causing him to be treated at the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Other officers report feeling nausea, dizziness and headaches while driving, something that finally caused administrators to send a safety bulletin to officers who drive the SUVs.
Ford says it has never found any problems that could allow carbon monoxide into the police SUVs and blames the problems on the modifications police departments must make to the Interceptors when installing everything from sirens and lights, to computers and radios.
Police Interceptors have holes and wiring that typical Explorers used by consumers don't have, and Ford believes it's those holes that cause carbon monoxide and exhaust fumes to enter the SUVs. Modifications that create gaps must be sealed properly or else SUV occupants may be exposed to dangerous fumes.
NHTSA is fully aware of possible problems because the agency opened an investigation in 2016 after 154 complaints were submitted about exhaust fumes entering 2011-2015 Ford Explorer SUVs.
Separately, a Florida woman filed a Ford Explorer carbon monoxide lawsuit in 2013 alleging her 2013 Ford Explorer made her and her 5-year-old daughter sick, a lawsuit that was settled by both parties in 2016.