A Guide to Using Cruise Control Safely
For the last 31 years, Hurst Towing has been providing dependable, not-for-profit motoring services in the Birmingham area. This means that our experts know a lot when it comes to cars. One question we get asked all the time is, ‘how do I use cruise control?’, so our experts have put together this detailed guide.
What Is Cruise Control?
Before we get into explaining how to use cruise control safely, it’s important you understand what it actually is. Cruise control is a system fitted to your car by the manufacturer that automatically maintains the speed your vehicle is going at. It works by imitating the way humans drive, except, instead of pressing the gas pedal, an actuator commands the throttle and keeps your car cruising at the same speed.
Cruise control was first created in America in 1948 by engineer Ralph Teetor and helps to reduce the fatigue people often experience while driving a long distance. Initially only found on luxury models, today it’s fitted as standard to many new cars. It’s also an environmentally-friendly device that helps drivers economize on fuel consumption.
How Can I Use Cruise Control Safely?
To use cruise control safely, you need to understand the scenarios in which it’s most appropriate. Cruise control performs best when you’re driving along long, straight roads, such as the highway. It will keep you at a constant and predictable speed that’s safe not just for you, but for other road users who may wish to overtake you.
However, cruise control isn’t recommended in heavy traffic, when you’re going downhill or when you’re approaching a bridge. You should also avoid using it on slippery roads and late at night (it’s much easier to fall asleep when you don’t have your foot on the gas pedal).
Because you no longer need to have your foot on the gas, we suggest that you just rest it on the floor. Incidentally, you could, in theory, take your hands off the steering wheel if you’re heading down a long, straight road when cruise control is activated, but for safety reasons, we recommend that you don’t do this in any circumstances. A road is an unpredictable place and you may need your hands on the steering wheel to react quickly during an accident, for example. If your hands are off the steering wheel, your reactions won’t be as fast.
How to Activate Cruise Control
To activate it, there will be a button on the steering wheel (of most cars) that you can press so you don’t have to fumble around your dashboard. Most cars will also have a ‘+’ button or ‘up’ arrow to allow you to raise the car’s speed. Once you press the gas pedal again, you override the system.