A 25-year-old Orange park woman lost her life on I-95 Saturday and it was a scene we’ve seen all too often.
The Florida Highway Patrol reports that the woman was heading south on Interstate 95 in Flagler County when she lost control of her 1999 Ford Explorer SUV and crashed Saturday afternoon around 3:15 p.m. The FHP report says that the woman changed lanes to pass slow traffic and that’s when she moved to the shoulder of the road and lost control of the vehicle rolling it several times. The woman was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the Explorer and taken to Halifax Hospital where she was pronounced dead. No one else was reported to be in the SUV and no other vehicles were involved in the auto accident in Florida.
Our hearts go out to the family of this young woman whose life was cut short too soon. This accident never should have happened and I wish we could turn back time for the woman who lost her life.
When I read about this accident I was reminded of the Ford Explorer SUV that was overloaded with young people on the last day of school in June 2009. When a tire blew as the kids from Ed White High School were on their way to the beach, the driver lost control of the Explorer and with none of his passengers wearing their seat belts; all were ejected. Four teens lost their lives that day. That horrific accident is being blamed, at least partially, on the tire which blew out.
An accident investigator is going to want to check the tires on the vehicle involved in the Flagler County accident. There may be a cause of legal action if indeed the tire is determined to be the reason the woman lost control of her vehicle.
The second problem is the earlier model of Ford Explorer.
In 2002, Ford installed a fully independent rear suspension in the Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer leading to more stability in the Explorer than in previous models. In 1999, Explorers involved in rollover had non-independent rear suspensions and many of the tires were found to be defective. And in May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Ford and Firestone about the incidence of tire failures and separating tread in Explorers, Mountaineers and the Mazda Navajos with Firestone tires.
Lastly, we’ve repeatedly pointed to the low seat belt use rate among young drivers. NHTSA reports that despite efforts aimed at increasing belt use among teens, use among young adults ages 16 to 24 continues to be at 76 percent in 2006. That same year, 58 percent of fatalities among teens involved in crashes were unbuckled in their vehicles.
Not only is it a good idea to save lives, but now bucking up is the law in Florida.
As far as the dangerous Ford Explorers – fortunately in 2009, the second generation of Ford Explorers built from 1995 to 2005, had five among the seven top spots traded in the “Cash for Clunkers” program, with the 1998 model at the top of the list.