(Updated on September 1, 2022)
Cruise control is a system that almost every modern vehicle on the road today has as a feature. The purpose of the cruise control system is to give drivers the ability to automatically set and maintain a specific vehicle speed.
That way, when you take your foot off the gas pedal, your car will continue driving at the speed in which it was set to.
You have the option to easily deactivate cruise control simply by stepping (a slight tap will do) on the brake pedal or via some form of “cancel” button/stalk/lever in the cruise “control” area. This will cause the acceleration to go back to manual control once again.
Drivers can manage cruise control right from their steering wheel. You will find the cruise control buttons either on the front of the steering wheel or to the side of it on the stalk or lever where the windshield wiper or turn signal controls are.
What you’ll first want to do is manually accelerate to a speed that you’ll want to maintain for a long distance. Once you reach that speed, you will push the “ON” button (or some combination of “on” and “set”) to activate cruise control. Then you can take your foot off the gas pedal and rest it on the floor.
With some forms of cruise control, the gas pedal will maintain the same pressed position without your foot having to be on it. Once you turn cruise control off by either pressing the off button or stepping on the brake pedal, the gas pedal will come back up again.
Top 3 Cruise Control Advantages
1) Good Fuel Economy
When you apply pressure to the gas pedal, it burns fuel. Cruise control keeps the gas pedal in one position so that you are not inadvertently consuming more fuel than you need to. This helps optimize your fuel economy (in most cases).
However, if driving through an area with various elevation changes, cruise control can actually use more fuel as you’ll naturally lose speed driving up inclines.
Because the vehicle doesn’t want to deviate from the set cruise control speed, it will in essence “mash the gas pedal” to get up to the cruise control speed as quickly as possible. Wide open throttle (WOT) like this will use more fuel than gradually increasing pressure on the gas pedal.
2) Better Driving Comfort
If you are going on a long drive, it can get tiring to have to keep your foot on the gas pedal for several hours on end. This is what a lot of drivers experience when they’re driving for long stretches on the highway.
With cruise control, you can rest your foot on the floor as the vehicle keeps moving at one steady speed. This will also lower your chances of dealing with fatigue as well.
Those suffering from lower back or leg pain may take a few seconds to stretch their legs out (if room allows).
3) Avoid Speeding
Speeding is not always intentional. A driver may go faster than the speed limit because they’re pressing harder on the gas pedal without realizing it.
A good way to avoid speeding is by setting the cruise control to the posted speed limit (or slightly over). Then you don’t have to worry about violating the speeding laws.
If on a multi-lane highway, you should in general avoid using the left lane unless you are passing a slower moving vehicle. This is even more important when utilizing cruise control.
Top 4 Cruise Control Disadvantages
1) Bad for Tired Drivers
If you are feeling tired and sleepy behind the steering wheel, then cruise control is not going to help. In fact, it will make it easier for you to fall asleep behind the wheel because you won’t have to do much work as a driver.
This will almost certainly increase your odds of causing a traffic accident. It’s best to simply get off the road at the next available opportunity when you start feeling sleepy but at the very least, don’t use cruise control.
2) Harder to Slow Down Quickly
If you have cruise control set and find that you need to make a turn within a few seconds, you won’t be able to slow down the vehicle fast enough to make the turn. It is also harder to avoid hitting other vehicles on the road that are close to you.
3) Harder to Drive in Bad Weather
Cruise control can cause your tires to lose traction on the road if the weather conditions are snowy, wet, or icy. For instance, if you seed a lightly flooded area in the road up ahead, it will be hard to slow down and avoid it with cruise control on. Your car could hydroplane, skid, or slide if the road conditions continue to be bad.
Simply put, don’t use cruise control in less-than-optimal driving conditions.
4) Easier to Get Distracted
Drivers using cruise control will be more tempted to look at their smartphones or other electronic devices. Even though they still need to steer, they don’t have to devote as much brainpower toward accelerating the vehicle.
This makes them feel more comfortable to do other things besides looking at the road. This is a recipe for disaster so put the phone away!