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Diatribe: Does Cruise Control Do More Harm Than Good?

12/03/2012

cruise-controlAfter spending countless hours on the highway over the years, I’m convinced that Cruise Control does more harm than good.  Cruise Control, sometimes known as “autocruise”, is a system that automatically controls the speed of a vehicle by taking control of the throttle to maintain a steady speed as set by the driver.  Years ago, Cruise Control became a standard feature on almost all cars and trucks with the intention of improving driver comfort in steady traffic conditions.  Unfortunately, such conditions rarely exist.

There are many times when driving with cruise control can actually be the cause of an accident.  For example, during times of rainy or icy conditions vehicles using Cruise Control often hydroplane.  When this happens, the wheels lose contact with the pavement and the car can actually speed up as Cruise Control tries to maintain speed.  This can cause the driver to lose control.

I’ve learned to recognize other drivers that are using Cruise Control.  They always seem to maintain a steady speed just over the posted speed limit, presumably to avoid a speeding ticket, which more often than not blocks the passing lane.

Drivers using Cruise Control depress their brake pedal to disengage the feature and then a second switch or button on or near the steering column to re-engage and return to the desired speed.  Every time the brake pedal is pressed, the vehicles brake lights flash causing the vehicle directly behind to use their brakes as well causing an accordion-like reaction that disrupts the flow of traffic.

Cars and trucks come with warnings and disclaimers for any number of different reasons yet Cruise Control is rarely, if ever, mentioned.  In theory, the feature should make for more comfortable driving and better fuel efficiency but the disadvantages appear to be outweighing the advantages that it provides.

Certainly, Cruise Control can be used effectively at many times on the highway … specifically, during dry conditions and light traffic such as found during the late night and early morning hours.  But, more often than not, it has been my experience that Cruise Control is a highway nuisance.  In today’s driving conditions, I don’t find the feature to be the least bit practical.

Do you use Cruise Control?

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9 Comments
  1. I use mine quite a bit because it improves gas mileage keeping the car at one speed. I don’t use it on rainy days or in heavy traffic, and I disengage it by clicking it off and not using the brakes.

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  2. I agree with this post 100% – not something I often do. 🙂

    CC maybe helpful in rural areas or the midwest but almost anywhere else there is just too much traffic. Now if that traffic all used it instead of weaving in and out of lanes to get to where they’re going 37 seconds faster while endangering everyone’s life while doing so, then it could be useful. Otherwise I say ban the button.

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  3. Barneysday permalink

    I use it all the time on the highway. Instead of braking, to disengage, using the “set” button disengages it temporarily, and the “resume” will re-engage it. This way there is no brake light to disrupt those following (too close, likely if the brake light causes them to hit the brakes) and I can do smooth speed changes without lurching slower and faster. Also, it does provide much better mileage.

    Good post, anyone at least thinking about safe driving these days deserves a “shout out!”

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  4. I use it only in Connecticut, my home state. For some reason, I always join the crazy fast drivers when I get there. So, to save myself from myself, I cruise…

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  5. I use Cruise Control almost always when I am driving on the highway. I do not use it in rainy or snowy conditions. I used to drive vehicles without CC & have had my gas foot go to sleep on me, so I have no feeling in that foot. This is dangerous because you have no idea how much you are depressing the gas pedal without the feeling & sometimes it is too dangerous to be able to pull over. The only thing I find when using CC is I tend to get a little sleepy from time to time, so I just depress the gas for a few minutes & then let it return to its regular speed. I do use the brake pedal to take the CC off, but to me this is the right thing to do because it lets the vehicle behind me know I am changing speed so they can adjust their speed to my new speed.

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  6. I don’t use it unless I’m on the interstate with very little traffic and in dry conditions. I don’t feel as if I have the control with it on that I do otherwise.

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  7. warero permalink

    Reblogged this on Javmode.

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