When Not to Use Cruise Control

When Not to Use Cruise Control

by / Monday, 31 January 2022 / Published in Tips
A person uses a steering wheel while driving.

Cruise control has long been a feature on cars. After being invented in 1948, it started being used on cars in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, and continued growing in popularity throughout the 1970s. Over time, cruise control has evolved to become more advanced than ever. In addition to helping drivers maintain a consistent speed, today’s adaptive cruise control is sophisticated enough to do things like automatically slow a car’s speed when approaching a vehicle ahead of it. 

According to a 2015 survey, 34% of respondents said they use cruise control whenever possible and 46% said they use it occasionally. As popular as cruise control is, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for all driving situations. So when should you not use cruise control? 

Times to Skip Using Cruise Control

Snowy & Rainy Days

If it’s rainy, snowing, or roads are otherwise slippery, such as if there’s ice or wet leaves on the road, cruise control is not recommended. With cruise control systems getting more advanced, some of them may claim to work in these types of conditions, but it’s still best to keep control of the car fully in your hands. The reason for this is that if your car begins to skid while cruise control is in use, the cruise control will accelerate so that the car maintains a consistent speed. When the tires start moving faster, the more likely it will be you will lose control of the car. If it’s been raining, using cruise control on wet roads can increase your chances of hydroplaning. 

While those are the main reasons to not use cruise control in these types of conditions, there are other reasons why it isn’t recommended. Edmunds notes that moisture can potentially interfere with the car’s sensors and make cruise control systems less reliable. They also note that when you use a car normally and begin to stop for something ahead of you, some of the weight of the car will transfer to the front as you take your foot off the gas pedal and move it to the brake, providing extra traction to the front tires. However, when cruise control is being used, that transfer of weight doesn’t happen because the speed doesn’t change while your foot is taken off the gas pedal. 

There’s also the fact that when people use cruise control, they often set it to the posted speed limit and the posted speed limit might not necessarily be a safe speed when roads are slick. You may also need to quickly adapt to changing conditions on the roads, which is best done by a human’s judgement. 

Hills, Curved Roads & Turns

Hilly and curved roads are another type of situation when changes in speed make cruise control unsafe to use. Since cruise control maintains a consistent speed, it’s not good for curved roads or when you need to make multiple turns, which need to be navigated at a reduced speed, or when you need to slow down while going downhill. 

Traffic & Pedestrians

Ideally, cruise control is best suited for when you’ll be driving for long stretches of time in areas that don’t have a lot of other traffic, both from other vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists, like rural roads. If you want to use cruise control while driving on an expressway during a long road trip, remember that it should be switched off if traffic starts getting heavy. Cruise control should not be used for city driving, where you’ll need to make frequent stops and it’s more likely you’ll encounter pedestrians.

When You’re Tired

Don’t forget that cruise control is not a self-driving system. It still requires an alert and attentive driver behind the wheel. If you fall asleep while driving, it won’t be able to steer the car for you or stop if there’s something in the road ahead of you that you need to stop for. 

Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a Michigan car accident lawyer. If a driver is doing something negligent, like using cruise control when they shouldn’t be, a lawyer will be able to help answer any questions you have and work with you to understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer experienced in handling car crash cases in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to get started.

Image: Pexels / jeshoots.com

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