WASHINGTON - U.S. auto safety regulators said Tuesday they have opened a safety probe into more than 1.8 million Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles over reports windshield trim panels can detach while driving at highway speeds.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was opening the preliminary evaluation into 2011 through 2019 model year Explorer SUVs because the issue could cause the detached part to hit the windshield of another vehicle or motorcyclist and cause a loss of vehicle control and crash.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)