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

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The driver of a Mustang Mach-E involved in a February crash in Texas was reportedly using Ford’s hands-free driver assistance system, BlueCruise, according to data obtained by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

This marks the first known fatality associated with a crash involving the use of BlueCruise, which Ford introduced in 2021. BlueCruise allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on pre-mapped highways and utilizes eye-tracking technology to ensure drivers remain attentive to the road.

The revelation that BlueCruise was active during the Texas crash comes shortly after the NTSB announced an investigation into a second fatal crash near Philadelphia where Ford’s driver assistance system may have been engaged. Ford previously informed TechCrunch that it reported the Texas crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and stated it was actively gathering all available information. However, the company declined to provide further comment on the matter.

The second crash, involving a Ford vehicle striking two stationary cars, raises concerns similar to those associated with Tesla’s Autopilot system. NHTSA has been investigating numerous incidents over several years involving Tesla drivers using Autopilot crashing into stationary emergency vehicles.

The February crash occurred outside San Antonio, where a 1999 Honda CR-V was stationary in the center lane of Interstate 10 without lights around 9:50 p.m. CT. The Mustang Mach-E collided with the rear of the Honda, causing it to overturn and end up in the left lane. The NTSB stated that the Mustang driver had been operating the vehicle in BlueCruise mode before the crash. Sadly, the driver of the Honda, a 56-year-old, succumbed to injuries after being transferred to the San Antonio Military Medical Center, while the Mustang driver sustained minor injuries. Police did not find any signs of intoxication in the Mustang driver. Another driver narrowly avoided the Honda just before the collision.

The NTSB released a preliminary report on Thursday and is continuing its investigation into the incident. A spokesperson mentioned that a final report is expected to be published within 12 to 24 months. Additionally, NHTSA is also conducting its own inquiry into the Texas crash, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

This article has been updated to reflect Ford’s decision not to comment on the new information provided by the NTSB.

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