The new report, by C. Bruce Gambardella, who released a groundbreaking
report on hybrid taxi safety last month, focuses on a collision and
rollover of a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid that occurred in Queens, New York on
September 15th, 2008 and ended with a driver hospitalized for multiple
injuries and a total loss of the taxi.
Another [tag]Ford Escape Hybrid[/tag] taxi rollover occurred in Manhattan on
September 19th, 2008 and also resulted in a total loss of the vehicle. The
rollovers come on the heels of several accidents involving Ford Escape
Hybrid taxis, including a severe accident on 10th Avenue in Manhattan on
August 30th, 2008 which resulted in a passenger being hospitalized and a
total loss of the vehicle as well as November 2007 accident, where the
L-shaped partition in the Ford Escape Hybrid taxi was completely dislodged
and ended up flush against the rear seat, where a passenger’s legs could
have been. The latter was comprehensively studied in Mr. Gambardella’s
September 2008 report on hybrid taxi safety, which was sent to the Taxi and
Dismayed by the growing trend in hybrid taxi rollovers and total
vehicle losses, as more and more hybrids enter service as taxicabs, the
[tag]Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade[/tag] (MTBOT) commissioned the report to help
achieve a deeper understanding of the problem. Several MTBOT fleets operate
Ford Escape Hybrids, which receive only a 3-star rollover rating from the
National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), and all taxi owners and
drivers face the prospect of a citywide hybrid taxi mandate that was
scheduled to take effect this month. The Crown Victoria, which has long
been the standard bearer in New York’s taxi industry, receives a 5-star
rollover rating from NHTSA.
“In all my work as an accident reconstruction expert over the past 26
years, I cannot recall a single case where a Crown Victoria or a Crown
Victoria-like vehicle has rolled over in a vehicle-to-vehicle crash,” said
C. Bruce Gambardella, P.E. before the [tag]New York City[/tag] Council on June 3,
2008. In a comprehensive report on hybrid taxi safety issued last month, he
noted that, “the Ford Escape Hybrid is more likely to roll over than the
Ford Crown Victoria” and attributed the problem to the Escape’s “high C.G.
(Center of Gravity) and relatively high seat positions” and he also noted
that due to “far from perfect” New York City streets, “discontinuities in
the road surface will help to trip SUV-type vehicles and increase the
potential for rollover.”
In Mr. Gambardella’s latest report on a specific collision between a
Ford Escape Hybrid and a passenger vehicle, he writes that all other things
being equal, if a Ford Crown Victoria had been involved in the accident
instead of the Escape Hybrid, “the Ford Crown Victoria, due to its wide
track and very low center of gravity, would have been very unlikely to
rollover.” Furthermore, after thoroughly analyzing the vehicles and
studying the accident scene, he concluded that, “if a Ford Crown Victoria
had been involved, the accident would have been a simple fender-bender.”
The report found several other safety hazards, many of which can be
attributed to the unintended use of the Ford Escape Hybrid — a standard
passenger vehicle — as a New York City taxicab. In analyzing the rollover
accident, Mr. Gambardella found that:
— The side-curtain airbag did not deploy normally due to insufficient
space between the partition and the top of the car.
— The L-shaped partition interfered with the 3-point unibelt because it
changed the anchoring position of the belt.
— The partition did not stay in place during the crash and may have
resulted in a violent head strike against the hard partition if there
had been a passenger in the right front seat.
MTBOT has brought a federal lawsuit against the Taxi and Limousine
Commission (TLC) and the City of New York to stop its 25/30 mpg taxi
mandate, which would force owners to abandon purpose-built stretch Crown
Victorias and purchase Ford Escape Hybrids and other untested and unproven
standard non-commercial passenger vehicles and place them into service as
taxicabs. Last month, the mandate, which was set to take effect on October
1st, 2008 was delayed because of the ongoing court case. Arguments will be
heard in Manhattan federal court on Friday, October 17th.
MTBOT is the country’s largest taxi fleet association. It represents 27
yellow medallion taxi fleets in New York City and over 3,500 medallion
taxicabs — approximately 25% of the taxi industry. MTBOT members have
operated more than 30 different vehicles over several decades including
minivans, Compressed Natural Gas vehicles and hybrids. MTBOT advocates on
behalf of its members, its 14,000 drivers and the riding public.
C. Bruce Gambardella is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York,
Michigan and Connecticut and has worked as an accident reconstruction
expert full time since 1982. Clients have included the City of New York,
Ford Motor Company, General Motors, NYC Transit Authority, the New York
Attorney General’s Office and numerous major insurance companies and
private attorneys. He has inspected more than 3,000 vehicles and performed
more than 1,300 detailed accident reconstructions.
Bruce Gambardella’s full report on the Ford Escape Hybrid rollover
accident, as well as accident photos, are available upon request.
SOURCE Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade