Have you heard people say not to use cruise control in any situation where there may be icy or wet roads? Ever wonder why? Let us teach you!
Cruise Control Basics
Let’s start by clarifying what cruise control is. It’s a setting on your car, also called speed control, that temporarily takes over the throttle to help your car maintain a constant speed. Cruise control “knows” the current speed of your car by the rotation of the driveshaft, speedometer cable, wheel speed sensor, or from internal speed pulses produced by the vehicle. The vehicle will speed up or slow down as needed to maintain the chosen speed using a control system that pulls the throttle cable.
Where Winter Roads Can Be A Problem: Trying To Swerve
If something happens and you need to avoid an obstacle on the road, you need to gain control of your vehicle quickly to maneuver it. Let’s face it: these situations happen more often in the winter. With longer nights, wildlife or other roadblocks may be less visible. Slippery weather also means more likelihood of unexpected movements by other cars on the road.
Therefore, if you’re using cruise control in winter you may need to disengage it in a hurry. Braking is usually the fastest way to cancel cruise control, however, braking in slippery winter conditions can be dangerous and can even make the situation much worse.
Where Winter Roads Can Be A Problem: Reduced Traction
So, you’ve set your cruise control to a certain speed. It will kick on every time your vehicle starts to slow down, pulling the throttle to get your car moving faster. The problem is that it can happen at any time – even on an icy bend in the road or on a slippery section of the road. Your cruise control doesn’t know when you don’t feel comfortable accelerating and you may have purposely allowed the car to slow. Your cruise control will just accelerate anyway.
In Conclusion: Just Don’t Do It!
Using cruise in winter conditions can create terrifying situations and may put yourself and others in danger. Just don’t use cruise control in the winter!
If you are unsure about driving in the winter and need a little extra guidance, try taking one of our Winter Driving courses. Our courses have been developed by experts using the SAFER System of Defensive Driving and our winter driver training is now available as in-vehicle training or as an online course.