The dangers of using Cruise Control

It’s important that drivers know exactly how and when to use it, to avoid any unnecessary accidents.

Cruise control (also known as speed control or autocruise) is a great system if used correctly. Drivers who use cruise control can benefit from decreased fuel consumption, comfort and can contribute to a decrease of harmful emissions to the environment.

However, there are certain situations where using cruise control has its risks and it’s important that drivers know exactly how and when to use it, to avoid any unnecessary accidents.

According to Arrive Alive, driver error can lead to vehicle crashes if we use cruise control incorrectly and in the wrong driving conditions.

“The driver should always be in full control of the movement of his vehicle and an error of judgement on his part cannot be merely blamed on the cruise control feature,” says Arrive Alive.

They summarise the following risks involved when using cruise control:

  • Cruise control when deployed will attempt to keep the car at a constant speed set by the driver. If the vehicle speed has been set to a 100 km/h speed, the car will automatically enter a corner at 100 km/h. If this is an inappropriate speed for the corner the subsequent braking to reduce speed will, while cornering, affect the balance of the vehicle which may in turn induce instability in the vehicle.
  • This will affect the vehicle handling and if not correctly compensated for by the driver, can in a worst case result in a loss of control of the vehicle.
  • Cruise control may lead to increased lane position variability, delayed braking, and crashing into a stationary queue more frequently.
  • Wet roads significantly affect the grip of the tyre and this in turn can make corrective actions by the driver much more difficult to judge.
  • A driver should remain alert while driving – Fatigue and a false sense of security can lead to a lack of attention and an accident.
  • Cruise control should NEVER be used by a driver who is feeling tired or jaded.
  • The lack of need to maintain constant pedal pressure can increase the risk of vehicle accidents caused by highway hypnosis
  • Cruise control can also take your mind off the road (frequently, drivers keep one hand on the wheel while in cruise control, and that’s their only contact with the vehicle).
  • With less to concentrate on it’s easier to daydream and disconnect from driving safely, which always requires concentration.
  • Another risk is that a driver may not be able to respond as swiftly and effectively to an emergency situation.
  • With cruise control it takes the driver’s foot off the gas pedal and the brake. The driver usually keeps his foot on the floor nearby. If you have to stop suddenly, to avoid a hazard on the road, it will take a few extra mille-seconds to find the brake pedal, and this time makes a lot of difference in what happens next.
  • Driving over “rolling” terrain, with gentle up and down portions, can usually be done more economically (using less fuel) by a skilled driver viewing the approaching terrain, by maintaining a relatively constant throttle position and allowing the vehicle to accelerate on the downgrades and decelerate on upgrades, while reducing power when cresting a rise and adding a bit before an upgrade is reached.
  • If Advanced Cruise Control is used in busy traffic, and on rural and urban roads other than main roads, there is a potential reduction of the ACC detection capacity.
  • Accidents, merge lanes, exit congestion—all are possible highway hazards that are hard to anticipate, and harder to avoid when you’re on cruise control

Source: Arrive Alive