Federal investigators look into crash of Mustang Mach-E equipped with driver assistance tech

Federal investigators look into crash of Mustang Mach-E equipped with driver assistance tech - Automotive - News

Fatal Crash Under Investigation: Ford Mustang Mach-E Equipped with Advanced Driving Assistance Technology

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are currently conducting a thorough investigation into a fatal crash that involved a Ford Mustang Mach-E, which was equipped with advanced driving assistance technology (ADAS).

In the unfortunate incident, the Mach-E collided with a Honda CR-V that was stationary in the roadway. The NTSB confirmed their presence at the crash site in San Antonio, Texas, to gather essential information regarding the accident scene and the sequence of events leading up to the collision. NHTSA also confirmed their involvement in the investigation, with the initial report originating from the Wall Street Journal.

The current probe marks one of many ongoing investigations into crashes involving ADAS systems. As of now, over forty cases are being examined by federal investigators, with most involving Tesla’s Autopilot system due to its longevity and extensive user base. However, incidents involving vehicles from General Motors’ Cadillac, Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand, Volvo, and several other automakers are also under scrutiny.

ADAS systems are designed to manage fundamental driving tasks such as lane keeping and maintaining a safe following distance, primarily for highway conditions. Advanced systems like Ford’s BlueCruise allow drivers to relinquish control of the steering wheel and pedals for extended periods on select US highways while monitoring their attention through an interior camera. However, drivers are expected to remain engaged with the road at all times.

Recent evaluations carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed that fourteen ADAS systems, including two from Ford, received mixed ratings. The hands-free BlueCruise system and the “Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Lane Centering Assist” (requiring drivers to maintain contact with the steering wheel) were both given a “Poor” rating.

It remains unclear which system was operational in the Mach-E during the Texas crash. Ford declined to comment on the ongoing investigation at this time. The IIHS recently released a report criticizing several ADAS systems for lacking sufficient driver attention monitoring and failing to keep drivers adequately engaged.

A preliminary NTSB report on the crash is expected within thirty days, while a comprehensive investigation and final report may take one to two years to complete. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy has previously criticized the NHTSA for its slow approach towards monitoring and regulating these advanced technologies.

As the investigation unfolds, it highlights the ongoing concerns regarding the capabilities and limitations of advanced driving assistance systems and the importance of continued oversight from regulatory bodies.