Is Cruise Control Safe To Use?
Cruise control offers a convenience for drivers on long stretches of road. For those traveling great distances over highways, cruise control can take away the tiring process of holding your foot on the gas pedal. It can even keep you from speeding, so long as you set your speed to within the posted limit.
However, cruise control does have drawbacks. Relying on it solely can create a hazardous situation, and it is not suited for all road conditions. To avoid accident, it’s best to know when you should and shouldn’t use cruise control, as well as how to keep safe.
What Is Cruise Control?
Cruise control is technology for the purpose of convenience, not safety. Put in place by car manufacturers, it’s main and only job is to maintain the consistent speed set by the driver. If a driver believes the speed limit is 60, when it’s actual 50, and enters that mph into the cruise control system, the car will go 60 mph. The cruise control system in itself can be a useful tool in the right setting, but many owners manuals recommended to avoid cruise control in certain weather conditions, as discussed later in this article. For example, you would not want to use cruise control in the rain, when your tires will be spinning on wet roads.
How Do I Work Cruise Control?
You should always consult the owners manual of your vehicle before deciding to use cruise control. Usually, there will be clear direction on how cruise control should be operated according to the make, model and year of your car. Cruise control systems typically need to be going a certain speed before they can be activated. Then, the set button is usually found on your steering wheel or behind it. Once it is pressed, a light will turn on on the dashboard and the car should maintain a constant speed. From there, there will be controls available to increase or decrease your speed without touching the gas or brake. These are usually in the form of paddles on your steering wheel or behind it. If you apply the brake, it will cancel the cruise control. Your car should also have a cancel button close to the set button.
In some new cars, you will have the option of adaptive cruise control. Adaptive cruise control is a new technology that allows the car to respond to it’s external surroundings. The car will be able to keep pace with the car in front of it, and brake as needed, without you having to cancel cruise control or manually make adjustments to your speed.
When Shouldn’t You Use Cruise Control?
Cruise control can be helpful, but drivers should use it only under certain specific road conditions; relying on cruise control for anything other than an open, clear, and long span of road will both reduce its effectiveness and increase your chances of an accident. Some conditions you shouldn’t use cruise control in are:
Wet and Slippery Roads
Any time there is rain, snow, ice, or hail, roads become hazardous for all drivers. Driving at a reasonable speed and adjusting accordingly are necessary for safe maneuvering of your vehicle. Using cruise control over slippery road conditions increases the risk of hydroplaning. If you are using cruise control and approach slippery conditions, be sure to ease your speed down instead of immediately cutting off cruise control to avoid a sudden shift in speed.
High Traffic Conditions
Cruise control is not suited for low speeds, making it not suited for slow-moving traffic. When the road conditions require you to start and stop, such as heavy traffic, cruise control may cause you to rear-end another vehicle.
Hills and Winding Roads
When driving around bends and curves, you must slow down and adjust your speed to make the turn safely. Hills also require slowing your speed when heading downhill. Cruise control prevents quick control of your speed, which is hazardous on winding roads.
Before deciding to use cruise control, make sure the roadway conditions allow for safe use, so that you can avoid any potential accidents.
Staying Safe While Using Cruise Control
So, is cruise control bad? If you have deemed road conditions suitable to cruise control and decide to use it, you still have a responsibility to pay attention to the road. Some people feel as though cruise control works like an autopilot, leaving them free to do as they like. This is not the case, and a lack of attention can lead to accidents.
Before driving, familiarize yourself with your cruise control’s operations. Beyond turning it on, learn how to turn it off. Some cruise controls use the same button to stop as to start, and other have separate controls.
Reach a safe speed before activating cruise control. Many vehicles will not even enter cruise control if the speed is too low. Build up to your speed within the speed limit, and only use the adjustment controls to make necessary adjustments within that speed. Cruise control is most effective between 55 and 70 mph and can keep your vehicle efficient and save gas.
Be sure to remain alert to the road. Even in ideal conditions, other vehicles may drive near you or make mistakes. Using cruise control makes it more likely for you to become drowsy, so it’s important to observe traffic and road conditions so that you can react as necessary.
Cruise control isn’t inherently dangerous, but it can be if drivers use it incorrectly. Using cruise control in improper conditions or not paying attention can lead to accidents and damages. If you are in a car crash, regardless of whether you are using cruise control, consulting an attorney can help you understand your legal options.
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