SALINAS, Calif. -

The California Highway Patrol's Monterey region is rolling out new patrol units. Three brand new Ford Explorers are now out on the highways, replacing the old Ford Crown Victorias.

Using voice activation, officers can now activate their lights, talk to dispatchers and check license plate numbers hands-free.

Officers have been getting trained to drive and operate the units, which cost the department roughly $26,000 each.

It's a statewide effort to phase out all of the old Ford Crown Victorias, which have exceeded their mileage warranty.

The new SUVs get better gas mileage.

The Monterey region is one of the last to get the new rides.

"For the most part, it will keep our officers more safe out there in a safer vehicle and it will assist us in performing our duties," said Officer Jaime Rios with the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP Monterey region hopes to phase out all of the old cars in the next year.

Other agencies are doing the same thing, including local police and sheriff's departments.