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Judge orders Ford to conduct tests on Crown Victor

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I wonder if more police departments are going to be switching to the Chevy Impala Police Package?

Mar. 17 - Ford Motor Co. must conduct crash tests on plastic safety packs offered in Crown Victoria police cars to protect gas tanks from rupturing in high-impact rear crashes, an Illinois judge said.

Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto, who sits in St. Clair County, Ill., ordered the Dearborn-based automaker to conduct a 75 mph crash test on the trunk pack by May 15.

The ruling, issued last Thursday, stemmed from a suit filed by St. Clair County and the City of Centerville, Ill., in which they claimed Ford was negligent in designing the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. The pack is a trunk storage unit made of plastic and a Kevlar liner on the wall facing the gas tank.

The Crown Victoria is the most popular police car on the road, but Ford has come under increasing criticism over safety. Since 1983, at least 18 police officers have died after their cars were hit from behind and the gas tanks burst into flames. Critics have alleged that the Crown Victoria's fuel tank wraps around the rear axle in a crash, making it prone to puncture.

Ford has been besieged with lawsuits from departments and cities claiming negligence by the automaker.

Ford officials said they were confused by Cueto's ruling. They said they conducted such a test in November with 200 pounds of police equipment stored in the pack.

"The trunk pack prevented punctures of the police equipment," the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday quoted Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes as saying.

The trunk packs are one of several fixes offered by Ford for the police cruisers. The automaker is also developing a fire-suppression system for future models of the Crown Victoria.

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