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Ford’s hands-free BlueCruise system active before fatal crash in Texas

In February, a Mustang Mach-E crashed into a stationary car in Texas while the driver was using Ford’s hands-free driver assistance system, BlueCruise, according to data obtained by the National Transportation Safety Board.

This is the first known fatality caused by an accident using BlueCruise, a service Ford first announced in 2021. The system allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on pre-mapped highways and uses eye tracking to determine whether the driver paid attention to the road.

The NTSB announcement that BlueCruise was active during the Texas crash comes just a day after the safety board announced it was investigating a second fatal crash near Philadelphia when a Ford driver-assist system may have been active. Ford said at the time that it had reported the Texas crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and was “actively studying all available information.” The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The second crash also involved the Ford crashing into two stationary cars, raising questions about whether the automaker’s driver-assistance systems suffer from similar problems to those Tesla has dealt with with Autopilot for years. NHTSA spent nearly three years investigating more than a dozen crashes in which Tesla drivers using Autopilot struck stationary emergency vehicles.

The February crash occurred outside San Antonio. Around 9:50 p.m. Central Time, a 1999 Honda CR-V was parked in the center lane of Interstate 10 with no lights when a Mustang Mach-E struck the rear of it. The Honda overturned and came to rest in the left lane. The safety board said Thursday that the driver of the Mustang “had been operating the vehicle in BlueCruise mode prior to the crash.” The 56-year-old driver of the Honda died after being transported to San Antonio Military Medical Center, while the driver of the Bronco suffered “minor injuries,” police reports said. Police found no signs of intoxication on the Mustang driver. The NTSB said another driver missed the Honda before the Mustang hit it.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Thursday and is still investigating the crash. A spokesman said a final report could be released within 12 to 24 months. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the Texas crash, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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