In July, nearly 400 Ford Explorers were pulled from the Austin Police Department. This happened due to a purported design defect in the vehicles, which lead to carbon monoxide leaks that were harming police officers.
The problem became apparent earlier this year after a slew of police officers suffered injuries due to carbon monoxide. In Newport Beach, California, a police officer crashed into a tree after passing out behind the wheel of his SUV. Another officer in Henderson, Louisiana blamed carbon monoxide for an accident. She passed out behind the wheel and flipped her SUV.
In Austin, several officers have been taken off duty to recover from carbon monoxide leaks in the past few months. And now, the department will be getting many of the pulled vehicles back.
The Problem May Go Back Much Further
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there have been more than 2,700 complaints regarding Ford Explorers over six years involving carbon monoxide. These include three reported crashes and 41 injuries.
Several lawsuits have been filed by people claiming their Explorers have made them sick.
A preliminary investigation by the NHTSA found no evidence to support claims that the crashes are related to carbon monoxide. If it is discovered that these cases are the result of a product defect, Ford may face fines from the NHTSA. Victims may also be able to pursue litigation against the company for their injuries.