Cruise Control

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Many new cars come fitted with cruise control - it is a useful driver's aid on long trips at a steady speed, but carelessness or misuse can cause dangerous situations which can lead to a crash.
Cruise controls fitted to the average family car only use engine power for control, the brakes are not used - and you will still have to steer the vehicle. Don't expect the cruise control to effectively retard the car on a downslope! - if the slope is steep enough the car's speed will increase.

TYPICAL CONTROL FUNCTIONS
Below is an example of the typical cruise control such as might be provided in your family car. The control switches could be buttons on the steering wheel or on the dashboard - or a lever alongside the steering wheel (similar to the indicators stalk, but shorter).
Some of the switches have a dual function depending on whether cruise control is on or off, set or not set.

While NOT SET (not controlling speed) While SET (controlling speed)
CONTROL
ACTION
CRUISE
light
SET
light
CONTROL
ACTION
CRUISE
light
SET
light
ON / OFF
Switches cruise control ON (if off)
Does NOT set control to current speed
ON / OFF
Switches cruise control OFF
SET / COAST
Sets speed control to the vehicle's current speed (Note 1.)
SET / COAST
Reduces engine power, resets speed control to the new speed when released (Note 1.)
RESUME / ACCEL
Resets speed control to the most recent setting
RESUME / ACCEL
Increases engine power, resets speed control to the new speed when released (Note 1.)
CANCEL
Has no effect if the speed control is not set
no change
CANCEL
Cancels the current setting, speed control is no longer set (Note 2.)
  1. There is NO speed control if the car speed is less than 40km/h.
    Speed control is also cancelled if the car speed varies from the set speed by a certain amount (see your car Owner's Manual for further information).
  2. You can also quickly CANCEL by tapping the brake pedal.
  3. The above is TYPICAL only and the system fitted to your own car could differ, please read your car Owner's Manual for more details.

Cruise control should NOT be used in these situations ...

  • When driving among other vehicles and in in built-up areas (suburbs, towns & cities).
    The danger is that you may become complacent, you may be tempted to tuck your right foot away to give it a rest. When suddenly confronted with a problem you have to react FAST or else!
    If you MUST use cruise control in these conditions - and you SHOULDN'T - rest your right foot lightly on the brake or accelerator pedal. If you need to brake suddenly or accelerate, you response will be more natural and faster.

    Let's say you cancel control with the brake pedal as you turn a corner, then drive into a new road. Pressing "resume" could suddenly accelerate you into the back of another car, or you could exceed the speed limit if the new road's limit is lower.

  • Driving on windy roads or hilly terrain.
    In most vehicles, cruise control only controls engine power - brakes are not used. The car could over-speed on a downhill slope, an unsafe condition. The speed control will cancel its setting in these situations (see note 3. above).
    Also the cruise control could continually "hunt" (speed varies as it tries to settle) - irritating and not good for your fuel economy.
    On winding roads where view of oncoming traffic is limited and you are constantly varying power for best balance, you are much safer if you directly control the car yourself.

  • Windy conditions, wet or slippery roads, loose road surfaces.
    These are the conditions where you most strongly are advised to NOT use cruise control !
    As well as problems outlined above, a wheel suddenly spinning or slowing down during a slip or a skid could fool the cruise control to make unexpected power changes - this could mean loss of control and disastrous consequences!

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