Cruise control can be a convenient way to drive, especially if you're on the highway for long distances. However, you need to know some safety tips to make sure you're using cruise control correctly.
Cruise control is a smart system that allows your vehicle to regulate its speed when traveling. No matter how smart the system, though, it's always important to know how it works and how to use it safely.
Here are some tips for making sure you're using cruise control safely (and when you shouldn't use it at all), compiled by
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How does cruise control work?
Cruise control can be found in almost all American cars, and while the specific instructions can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the general functions remain the same.
Most cruise control systems include these buttons: on, set, +, -, cancel, and off. You can push the "on" button to turn on the system, and once you've reached a comfortable speed, hit the "set" button.
After you do this, you'll notice that if you take your foot off the accelerator, the car won't decelerate but instead will carry on at the same speed. The "+" and "-" buttons allow you to increase or decrease this set speed a certain miles-per-hour increments.
There are two ways in which you can deactivate the system. One is by pushing the "cancel" button, and the other is by hitting the brakes. As soon as you take any of these actions, the car will go back to its standard speed settings.
If you want to reactivate the system, you just have to hit the "set" button once again, and it will activate based on the previous settings.
However, if you want to shut it off completely, you will want to hit the "off" button. This will erase all the previous settings, requiring you to reset it.
Safety tips for cruise control
While cruise control can make a road trip more manageable, it's important that you know how to use it safely before embarking on your trip.
1. Only Use Cruise Control on Highways
When driving on local streets, you're often required to hit on the breaks due to traffic lights, turns, nearby cars, and many more things. Therefore, having a set speed is probably not a good idea.
2. Don't Use It in Heavy Traffic
Even if you're driving on the highway, only activate cruise control when the traffic is light. Cruise control won't do you much good if you deactivate it every two seconds by hitting on the breaks.
3. Avoid Using Cruise Control on Wet Streets
When navigating potentially dangerous conditions such as wet roads, it is always smart to keep full manual control of your car and its speed.
4. Keep a Safe Distance from Other Cars
A set speed can cause you to come dangerously close to other vehicles if they're not going as fast. Make sure to keep an out for this and hit the brakes when getting close.
Always be ready to break when necessary. Never take your foot away from the pedal.
6. Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Standard cruise control can only regulate the car's speed—it doesn't control its path. Be mindful of all the other cars on the road and stay in your lane.
Cruise control vs. adaptive cruise control
Many newer cars come with adaptive cruise control. This is a more advanced version of standard cruise control, and it allows the car to be aware of other vehicles in front of you through the use of a forward-looking radar.
Basically, it means that if you set cruise control and then start getting too close to the car in front of you, the adaptive cruise control will automatically decrease the speed to achieve a safe distance between you and the other vehicle. After the road is cleared, the car will accelerate and achieve the set speed once again.
The same safety measures mentioned above still apply. Make sure you're ready to gain control of the vehicle at all times, and you'll be ready to enjoy cruise control on the road.
Is cruise control safe?
When used correctly, yes, cruise control is safe. However, you might put yourself in danger if you're using cruise control in heavy traffic, non-highway roads, or if you're not paying attention to the road and ready to brake.
When should cruise control not be used?
Avoid using cruise control on non-highway roads, wet roads, or traffic. You also shouldn't use cruise control if you're having to brake often.