What are the hazards of relying too much on cruise control?
While manually maintaining your vehicle’s speed is one less thing to focus on, it can be tempting to reach for your phone, mess with the radio, or just zone out while you’re driving. Relaxing too much while relying on cruise control can create a false sense of security and control which can quickly lead to serious injury if not kept in check.
Hazardous driving conditions
Rain, wind, and slippery roads can make using cruise control even more treacherous. If you’re on a long road trip, it can be tempting to turn on your cruise control and let your guard down, but inclement weather and poor road conditions can jeopardize control of your vehicle and potentially cause an accident. Prioritize your safety and the safety of other drivers and passengers by keeping both hands on the wheel and staying alert, particularly when driving through bad weather.
High traffic areas
Many cars now come with adaptive cruise control technology, which automatically adjusts your car’s speed to maintain a certain following distance from the car in front of you. While this is certainly a useful safety feature on long stretches of highway driving, it can be dangerous to rely on this feature when driving in congested traffic. It’s best to manually adapt your speed to fit your driving conditions when driving through dense traffic, such as rush hour, construction zones, or slow traffic following an accident or rough weather. Even adaptive cruise control can fail to adjust quickly enough to prevent a fender bender (or worse!).
Sluggish reaction times
We mentioned how cruise control makes it easy to get too comfortable and not stay alert while driving, but it can also lead to slower reaction times in the event of traffic coming to an unexpected stop, another driver cutting you off, or a pedestrian or animal crossing into your path.
Changing road conditions
Setting your cruise control on the speed limit on a long road trip is a great way to help you maintain a safe speed and avoid a speeding ticket; however, if your travels include any winding roads or rolling hills, using cruise control can actually increase your odds of getting into an accident and even waste your fuel consumption. As you travel up and down hills, your cruise control maintains the same speed by accelerating on the inclines and braking on the decline, which can actually burn more gas than letting your car’s natural momentum carry it downhill. It’s particularly dangerous to use cruise control on winding roads since it will enter into turns and accelerate through them at the speed on which the cruise control is set. It’s often safer and more efficient to turn cruise control off on hilly and/or winding roads.