If you currently use or have considered using your vehicle’s cruise control function, you need to know when to and when not to use it. While this feature can certainly be useful at times, it can quickly lead to a disaster if incorrectly used. To keep you and your passengers safe, it’s imperative to understand when this function is safe to use and when it is not. This convenient function is simply not useful in all scenarios. In this article, we’ll cover what cruise control is and focus on when you shouldn’t use it and make sure you stay safe and sound!
What Is Cruise Control?
Before you can understand when cruise control isn’t safe to use, you’ll need to know what it is and how it works. In layman’s terms, this feature is used to keep your car traveling at a constant speed without having to press the gas pedal. This means that if you’re traveling 45 MPH and turn this function on, then your car will keep on driving at this speed.
As you can imagine, keeping your car at a constant speed can be beneficial in situations where you’re traveling for a long period without stopping or slowing down. It’s easy for your foot to get tired and cramp when held in the same position for a prolonged period. Cruise control fixes this by allowing you to slightly rest your foot.
The way that this feature works is by automating the process that happens when you manually step on the gas. The throttle valve of your car will automatically open and keep your car going the same speed. Regardless of the slope your car is traveling on, airflow will increase or decrease to stay at the same speed.
When Is Cruise Control Effective?
Now that you know how cruise control works, you’ll need to understand when it’s effective. This is helpful because it will also illustrate when you shouldn’t use this feature. This function should only be used when you’re traveling at a constant speed for a lengthy period. More specifically, this feature should only be used at higher speeds.
Cruise control can technically be used at lower speeds than 25 MPH, but this is not a good speed to use it at. We’ll cover more on that below, but stick to speeds of at least 45 MPH to make good use of it. This means that you’ll primarily use it on freeways and highways.
Furthermore, you should only use cruise control when traffic is minimal and the weather is good. If traffic is heavy, then you’ll need to brake often and this will turn the function off anyway. In heavy traffic and bad weather conditions, it’s better to manually operate your car for your safety.
When Should You Not Use Cruise Control?
From here, it’s simple to extrapolate when you shouldn’t be using cruise control. You shouldn’t ever be using this feature at low speeds. As mentioned above, 25MPH is typically when this feature is available to use. However, doing this is foolish because low-speed roads often involve frequent speed changes and stops.
For example, imagine driving on a road with a speed limit of 30 MPH. How often will you need to slow down at a red light or stop sign? What about if anyone suddenly changes lane in front of you? You’ll need to slow down and speed up too often to make speed automation actually worth using.
Also, cruise control should not be used when there’s heavy traffic. The reason for this is the same as why you shouldn’t use it at low speeds. Constant stop-and-go will render the feature useless. You need to be fully aware when driving in traffic, which means that using automated functions is highly inadvisable.
Another thing to remember is to never use cruise control if you feel uncomfortable with it. Many drivers don’t like this function because it makes them feel like they aren’t in control at all times. You do have the ability to turn it off at any time, but there is a slight adjustment as you shift from turning it off. This can confuse and overwhelm you. If it’s your case, refrain from using this feature.
When Is Cruise Control Dangerous?
When operating your car, the most important thing is to prioritize your safety. This means avoiding dangerous situations at all costs. This also applies to cruise control use. You should never use this feature in dangerous scenarios.
There are a few specific circumstances that come to mind. The first one involves rain. Generally speaking, you should never use cruise control in the rain or when the road is wet. The main reason being that when the road is slippery and your car is trying to accelerate, it can cause your tires to spin and cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Additionally, there’s the risk of hydroplaning. In a normal driving situation, if you hit a large patch of water, you should take your foot off the gas pedal. If you’re already using cruise control, then you’ll need to turn it off by using the brakes. This may be problematic because applying the brakes while you’re hydroplaning, risk locking up your wheels and cause your car to spin out of control.
Similar to wet roads, you should also avoid using cruise control when it’s icy or snowing. If the road is icy, you’ll face the same wet pavement-related issues. It’s easy to lose control of your vehicle or have it spin out.
If there is any form of inclement weather, simply refrain from using cruise control at all. You need to be fully vigilant and in control of your vehicle at all times to avoid hazards. In this case, using cruise control is simply not worth the risks.
Is Cruise Control Worth Using?
With all of this in mind, you’re likely wondering: is it bad to use cruise control? There certainly are benefits to using it, like allowing your foot to rest and saving gas on the freeway. However, there are serious ramifications from using it improperly. Cruise control can be useful, but incorrect usage can quickly lead to an accident.
For this reason, you should only use this feature in niche situations. This solely includes long road trips and commutes on the freeway. These are the only scenarios where you aren’t likely going to need to stop or slow down every 2 minutes or so.
While cruise control certainly has its uses, it can be more problematic than beneficial if you use it in the wrong scenarios. Because of this, you should refrain from using it in poor weather or low speeds. Both scenarios will involve frequent braking and make the use of this feature pointless. Making matters worse, poor weather can cause an accident if you lose control of your vehicle or lock your wheels by braking suddenly. Make a point of only using cruise control on long road trips and at high speeds to maintain your safety!