The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently conducting an investigation to determine the involvement of Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free driving system in a fatal accident. The investigation was prompted by an incident where a BlueCruise-equipped Ford Mustang Mach-E collided with the back of a stationary Honda CR-V on Highway 10 in San Antonio, Texas, resulting in the death of the CR-V’s driver. Both the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have a history of examining driver-assistance systems.

The NTSB has initiated a probe into Ford’s BlueCruise hand-free driver-assist system following the crash that took place on February 24 in San Antonio, Texas. According to the NTSB’s preliminary findings, the Mustang Mach-E rear-ended a stationary Honda CR-V on Highway 10, which led to the fatality of the driver of the CR-V. A police report from San Antonio, as mentioned by Reuters, indicated that the Mach-E had its “partial automation” feature activated at the time of the crash. Reuters also noted that the NTSB’s decision to investigate was driven by its ongoing interest in the interaction between drivers and advanced driver assistance systems. The NTSB is expected to release an initial report within the next 30 days.

When Car and Driver inquired about the crash, a Ford representative expressed their deepest condolences to those affected and stated that the full details of the incident were not yet clear. Ford communicated the incident to the NHTSA as soon as they were informed and is actively gathering all pertinent information. The representative underscored Ford’s commitment to safety and assured full cooperation with any ensuing investigations.

BlueCruise is categorized as a Level 2 autonomous system, which means that drivers are still ultimately responsible for the vehicle’s operation and must be prepared to take control when necessary. To ensure drivers maintain their responsibility, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles are fitted with a camera and infrared light emitters inside the cabin to track the driver’s gaze. If the driver is not paying attention for an extended period, BlueCruise will deactivate.

The investigation into the Mach-E crash comes in the wake of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) giving failing grades to nearly every automaker in a new rating program designed to assess partially automated driving systems. The NTSB’s inquiry into the safety of these new driver-aid technologies is part of a broader effort that includes other government safety agencies such as the NHTSA and the IIHS.

Jack Fitzgerald’s enthusiasm for automobiles is fueled by his enduring passion for Formula 1. His stint as a detailer for a local dealership group during college solidified his interest in the automotive industry, leading him to seek a career as an automotive journalist. By leveraging his relationships with college professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was able to explore automotive stories across Wisconsin, eventually securing his ideal position at Car and Driver. He is now focused on prolonging the life of his 2010 Volkswagen Golf.