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US to investigate Texas fatal crash that may have involved Ford partially automated driving system

DETROIT (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a fatal crash in San Antonio, Texas, involving a Ford electric vehicle that may have been using a partially automated driving system.

The agency said in a statement Friday that a team of investigators from its Office of Highway Safety will travel to Texas and work with police on the Feb. 24 crash on Interstate 10.

The NTSB said that preliminary information shows a Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV equipped with the company's partially automated driving system collided with the rear of a Honda CR-V that was stopped in one of the highway lanes.

Television station KSAT reported that the Mach-E driver told police the Honda was stopped in the middle lane with no lights on before the crash around 9:50 p.m. The 56-year-old driver of the CR-V was killed.

“NTSB is investigating this fatal crash due to its continued interest in advanced driver assistance systems and how vehicle operators interact with these technologies,” the agency statement said.

Ford's Blue Cruise system allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel while it handles steering, braking and acceleration on highways. The company says the system isn't fully autonomous and it monitors drivers to make sure they pay attention to the road. It operates on 97% of controlled access highways in the U.S. and Canada, Ford says.

There are no fully autonomous vehicles for sale to the public in the U.S.

The NTSB said investigators will travel to San Antonio to examine wreckage, collect information about the crash scene and look into the events leading up to the collision. A preliminary report is expected within 30 days.

In a statement, Ford said it is researching the crash and the facts are not yet clear. The company expressed sympathy to those involved and said it reported the crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Both NHTSA and the NTSB have investigated multiple previous crashes involving partially automated driving systems, most involving Tesla's Autopilot. In past investigations, the NTSB has examined how the partially automated system functioned.