Cruise Control Can Be Dangerous in Bad Weather

Cruise Control Can Be Dangerous in Bad Weather

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Samantha Hayes ReportingAt this time of year the roads are often wet, snowy and icy, just plain dangerous. We may think we know how to drive in it, but many end up in crashes they could have avoided.

In reality, a common feature on our cars can also put us in danger. We’re talking about cruise control. It makes driving easy when traffic is light, but in bad weather your vehicle will handle in ways you do not expect.

Here's a likely weather report: foggy, icy, and you still have to drive home in the dark on the interstate. All you want to do is get there..

Ray C. Greer, L-3 Communications MPRI Division: “Very foggy situation, braking, people can’t see… there’s a pileup.”

That's the best kind of crash to have, it’s in a simulator. The simulator, like a game, starts over. And hopefully the driver has learned something.

Instructor Ray Greer teaches commercial and professional drivers how to avoid situations that cause crashes..

Ray Greer: “It gives you a good feel for how to control a car on an icy surface.”

Never follow too close.

Ray Greer: “You've got to look way out in advance for things that could be potential hazards."

Accelerate gradually. And perhaps most important, don't use cruise control.

Ray Greer: “If I'm in cruise control I have to apply the brake before I decelerate, and I may run into a situation where I can't react appropriately."

It’s happened several times on Utah interstates.

Jeff Nigbur, Utah Highway Patrol: “If you are driving with cruise control in inclement weather we obviously want you to turn that off because if you start to hydroplane, your engine will race and spin the tires and you want to be able to pull out of out of control motions when you are hydroplaning."

The simulator is designed to mimic the physics of a car. You don't want your vehicle hydroplaning for real.

Ray Greer: “When you get into the car after the simulation, it really does reinforce situations and you think, 'I got into an accident in the simulation.’"

If your car is on cruise control and it hydroplanes, highway patrol says the car will travel at 10-15 miles faster than the speed set on the cruise control.

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