Driverless Cars Cause Two Fatalities - Are They Safe? CCM Blog Cover Image

How Safe Do You Feel with Driverless Technology?

Ford’s hands-free driver assistance system, BlueCruise, is in the spotlight after two fatal crashes in the US.

In both cases, Ford Mustang Mach-E cars using BlueCruise collided with stationary vehicles at night. The first crash happened in February when a Mustang Mach-E hit a parked Honda, killing the 56-year-old driver of the stopped car. The second crash was in March in Philadelphia.

Ford is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate these incidents.

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BlueCruise got the green light for use on UK motorways from the Department for Transport (DfT) last year. This system keeps an eye on road markings, speed signs, and traffic conditions to handle steering, acceleration, braking, and lane positioning. It even keeps a safe distance from other vehicles and can stop completely in traffic jams.

Right now, BlueCruise is the only driver assistance tech in the UK that lets you take your hands off the wheel on motorways.

The NHTSA is focusing its investigation on how well BlueCruise monitors drivers and performs driving tasks.

These two crashes are also being looked into by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

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BlueCruise is a Level 2 autonomous system and can be used on 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland, and Wales, called Blue Zones. Even though it’s hands-free, drivers need to stay alert at all times and are monitored by an infrared camera.

If the system notices you’re not paying attention, it starts with warning messages, then audible alerts, brake activations, and finally slows down the car while keeping control of the steering. The same thing happens if you don’t put your hands back on the wheel when you leave a Blue Zone.

Ford says its engineers did 100,000 miles of testing on European roads to validate BlueCruise and its features, plus over 600,000 miles in the US and Canada before launching it there in 2022. Testing in Great Britain helped make sure it could handle everyday driving conditions like worn-out lane markings, bad weather, and roadworks.

The DfT didn’t comment on the US investigation but said the system’s approval in the UK followed a rigorous testing process.

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What do you think about driverless tech?

With driverless tech becoming more common, how do you feel about its safety and reliability? Do you trust systems like Ford’s BlueCruise to keep you safe on the road? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.

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