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Is It Ever Dangerous To Use Cruise Control?

Over the last decade or so, there have been many technologically advanced features added to cars. While many of these auto safety features were once available only in expensive premium makes and models, we now see many of these advancements included in lower-priced models marketed to mainstream drivers.

The news has also been full of stories about the development of self-driving cars and trucks. In fact, San Francisco, Austin, and Phoenix all allow driverless taxis, which are often referred to as “robotaxis.” But that could just be the beginning. Twelve other cities are testing robotaxis, including San Diego, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

While the future of self-driving cars is interesting to investigate, we find ourselves at this point due to several incremental steps toward automation. One, which is now decades old, is good, old-fashioned cruise control. It is an automobile feature that has become ubiquitous – but, does it lead to more auto accidents? In this blog post, we will discuss whether it can be dangerous to use cruise control.

What Is Cruise Control? 

We suspect that almost everyone is familiar with cruise control. It is a technology on an automobile that allows the driver to set and maintain a fixed speed, which, once established, is maintained without the driver having to use the gas pedal manually. You can disengage the system by pressing the brake or the accelerator.

What Are the Origins of Cruise Control?

A device to control the speed of a car was first introduced in the early 1900s. However, the product, generally considered to be the first modern cruise control device, was created by an  engineer named Ralph Teetor (who incidentally was blind) and called the “Speedostat.” The Speedostat was initially a luxury item installed on select Chrysler models. The Speedostat proved so popular that it was subsequently placed on all vehicles. General Motors coined the term “cruise control” when it started putting it on Cadillacs.

Potential Dangers of Cruise Control

Cruise control offers drivers great convenience, especially on longer trips. However, it also comes with certain dangers. We will discuss several below.

  • Drivers can become distracted – on the one hand, using cruise control can give drivers one less thing to think about. On the other hand, unfortunately, this freedom sometimes reduces a driver’s concentration and allows distractions, such as focusing on a smartphone, radio, or other matter unrelated to driving.
  • Drivers may feel a false sense of safety – According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as reported by Reuters, a study determined that using adaptive cruise control (which also controls braking) increases the risk of a traffic crash. A primary reason is that drivers have an increased perception of their safety, which leads them to set a speed above the speed limit.
  • Using cruise control at the wrong times – some people turn on their cruise controls even in areas with high traffic and during poor weather conditions. These are times when it is safer to control your car manually. Another example is using cruise control on hilly and winding roads, when appropriate speeds will change frequently, and it can be dangerous to accelerate too fast out of curves.

Call with Questions

While many features on automobiles increase safety, when misused or deployed at the wrong time, they can sometimes increase danger. If you have been injured in an automobile accident due to the negligence of another driver, you’ll likely be curious about your legal rights. We know you will have questions about these rights; please call the experienced Oregon auto accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield for a free consultation. We will be happy to answer all of your questions.