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Safety regulators probe Ford driver assist features after fatal crash

Safety regulators probe Ford driver assist features after fatal crash
Washington DC CNNThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Monday it has opened an investigation into a recent Ford Mustang Mach-E fatal crash in San Antonio, Texas, where authorities suspect an advanced driver assistance system was in use.

Driver assistance features are being hailed by automakers as a way to reduce accidents, but federal safety regulators are concerned that over-reliance on the features by drivers could be causing some accidents.

While NHTSA has opened more than three dozen Tesla special crash investigations since 2016 where advanced driver assistance systems such as Autopilot were suspected of being used with 20 crash deaths reported, this is NHTSA’s first special crash probe involving a Ford advanced system.

NHTSA typically opens more than 100 special crash investigations annually into emerging technologies and other potential auto safety issues. In addition to the NHTSA probe, on Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board opened a separate investigation into the Feb. 24 crash.

The NTSB said it was investigating the crash “due to its continued interest in advanced driver assistance systems and how vehicle operators interact with these technologies.”

The NTSB said initial information indicated the Ford struck the rear of a Honda CR-V that was stationary in a traffic lane on Interstate Highway 10. A San Antonio police report said the Ford had “partial automation” engaged at the time of the crash.

The police report said the driver of the Honda CR-V, 56-year-old Jeffrey Allen Johnson of Austin, was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.

Ford has said its BlueCruise is an advanced hands-free driving system that operates on 97% of U.S. and Canadian highways with no intersections or traffic signals.

A Ford spokesperson said the automaker “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.”

The NTSB has opened several investigations in recent years into advanced driver assistance systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot and what it calls “Full Self Driving” or FSD.

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