The Pros and Cons of cruise control

Yes or no to cruise control? Cruise control was developed as a comfort and convenience system rather than a safety system…

Advances in automotive technology provide drivers with optimal safety and comfort on the road on a daily basis, but, are there also dangers to being too comfortable on the road? Arrive Alive tells all when it comes to cruise control.

For those that don’t know what cruise control is, it is an in-car feature that automatically keeps the speed of your vehicle at a chosen km/h without keeping your foot on the accelerator.The driver is able to manage the speed of the car with the fingertips whilst still keeping control of the vehicle through steering and braking. However, it should be noted that cruise control was developed as a comfort and convenience system rather than a safety system.

The advantages of cruise control are as follows:

1. It allows you to take long road trips with added comfort.

2. With cruise control activated, the driver can sit back, relax his right leg, and steer the vehicle.

3. For those who suffer from lead-foot syndrome, cruise control ensures that you travel at a smooth and steady speed.

4. Most drivers are fairly inconsistent at maintaining a given speed, instead creeping up and drifting down as you drive along a road as they manually adjust relative to the speed limit and road conditions such as hills.

5. The car uses less fuel due to the ongoing speed.

6. Driving with cruise control will help to avoid violating speed limits.

7. The positives for road safety include a reduction of the mean driving speed, a reduction of the maximum speed, a reduction of speed differences, i.e. increased speed homogeneity and a reduction of the number of very short headway times.

8. Decrease in fuel consumption means decrease of harmful emissions.

However, there are also cons to using cruise control:

1. 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 certain speed, the car will automatically enter a corner at that speed. 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.

2. 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.

3. Cruise control may lead to delayed braking.

4. 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.

5. Cruise control should NEVER be used by a driver who is feeling tired or jaded.

6. The lack of need to maintain constant pedal pressure can increase the risk of vehicle accidents caused by ‘highway hypnosis’.

7. Cruise control can also take your mind off the road.

8. The driver may not be able to respond as swiftly and effectively to an emergency situation.

The moral of the story is that cruise control is not made for all road conditions, but rather for the ideal road conditions. If your car has cruise control as a feature, it is important to read the owner’s manual as a guide to when cruise control should be avoided. As Arrive Alive suggests, the driving feature is designed for ideal road conditions and some manuals suggest cruise control should not be used in “heavy traffic driving, city driving, winding, slippery or unsealed roads.

Image Source: BMW