NTSB launches investigation into Ford’s Blue Cruise after fatal crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has launched an investigation into Ford’s Blue Cruise semi-autonomous technology after a fatal accident in San Antonio, Texas.

The accident occurred on February 24, 2024, involving a Ford Mustang-Mach-E and Honda CRV. According to the driver of the Mach-E, the CRV was stopped in the middle lane of Interstate 10, with no lights on when the collision occurred. The incident was captured on video, with the impact causing the CRV to flip over onto its roof.

Unfortunately the driver of the CRV, identified as 56-year old Jeffrey Allen Johnson from Austin, died from the injuries sustained in the crash. The driver of the Mach-E was not intoxicated, according to the crash report obtained by MySA.

In a statement, the NTSB said that preliminary data shows Blue Cruise might have been active at the time of the crash. In a separate statement on X, the agency said it is working with San Antonio police as part of their safety investigation into the crash.

Ford has commented on the incident, with a spokesperson saying, “We were recently made aware of this incident and extend our deepest sympathies to those involved. The complete facts of this event are not yet clear. Ford reported this incident to NHTSA as soon as we were made aware, and we are actively researching all available information. Safety is a top priority for all of us at Ford, and we will collaborate fully with any resulting investigation.”

Ford’s Blue Cruise system is a Level 2 autonomous systems, and can control the vehicle’s steering, braking, and acceleration under specific conditions on certain pre-mapped highways. Ford allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel when Blue Cruise is active, but does still require the driver to remain attentive and be prepared to take control at any moment.

The investigation comes just days after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluated all partially automated driving systems, including Ford’s Blue Cruise. After their tests, the IIHS gave Blue Cruise a “poor” rating, saying Ford’s driver-monitoring system “failed to detect when the driver’s hands were occupied with another task.”

Tesla has been at the center of a number of investigations related to its Level 2 autonomous system, Autopilot. After more than two years of those investigations, the NHTSA found no issues with the company’s self-driving technology, but forced Tesla to increase the level of driver monitoring to prevent misuse of the Autopilot system.

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