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Why Misuse of Adaptive Cruise Control Could Cause a Dangerous Crash in Pennsylvania

cruise control buttons Using cruise control on a long road trip can make the task of driving easier. Cruise control can also improve your vehicle’s gas mileage.

The problem is some drivers misuse cruise control and increase the risk of dangerous accidents. For example, some drivers use cruise control in heavy traffic, or they are not as attentive as they should be.

Below, our Harrisburg auto accident attorney discuss the pros and cons of cruise control, including adaptive cruise control systems. We also discuss the dangers of negligent use of these features. When negligence causes a crash, victims may be eligible to seek compensation.

Call us today. There are no upfront fees for our services: (717) 727-2550.

How Cruise Control/Adaptive Cruise Control Systems Work

Vehicles have been equipped with cruise control systems for decades. At first, all these systems did was make vehicles travel at a consistent speed.

However, technological advances have led to the creation of adaptive cruise control (ACC). These systems will not only control your vehicle’s speed. They may also use sensory technology (cameras, radar, lasers, etc.) to predict what other drivers are going to do. If another car cuts you off, ACC may apply the brake to help prevent a crash.

Sensory technology can allow ACC systems to:

  • Determine the distance between your vehicle and others
  • Set off flashing lights and audible warnings when there is a risk of a crash

ACC systems often have a preset following distance. If your vehicle starts to get too close to another, the ACC system will slow down to maintain the preset following distance. Once the vehicle in front of you speeds up or moves out of the way, your ACC system will accelerate to the speed you originally set.

If you go into a tight turn or curve, the ACC system may automatically slow your vehicle down to help prevent a crash.

Some systems have a lane change assist function that changes lanes for you, ensuring your vehicle is in the center of the new lane. The system will check to be sure traffic is clear and it is safe to make a lane change.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Cruise Control?

Cruise control can make it easier to drive, especially adaptive cruise control features like those discussed above. Using control can also help you maintain better gas mileage, potentially lowering your monthly bill for gas. Your car uses the most gas when speeding up and slowing down, so maintaining a consistent speed reduces the amount of braking and acceleration your vehicle does.

The danger of using cruise control is that drivers can become distracted. Drivers may lose focus on driving because they feel like cruise control has it covered. Use of cruise control could also make drivers more likely to get tired. Being fully engaged in the task of driving may help drivers to avoid feeling drowsy.

Often, drivers who are using cruise control have delayed reaction time with the use of their brakes. This could make a crash more likely to happen.

Does Use of Cruise Control Help Reduce Car Accidents?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a study about ACC systems, and it revealed there is potential for newer ACC systems to reduce the risk of car accidents.

Other research has revealed use of ACC systems increases following distance and reduces the amount of passing and lane changing. However, the increase in following distance only occurs if drivers leave following distance at the default setting.

However, the IIHS study also found drivers are more likely to misuse these systems, which is why there may be a 10 percent higher risk of a fatal crash.

The study found drivers are more likely to speed when they use cruise control or partial automation. Drivers often set the cruise control speed higher than the posted speed limit.

This research reinforces the point that these systems are not a substitute for being an attentive driver. You should not use cruise control because you think it is automatically going to prevent an accident. You will need to pay attention and be ready to brake or steer to avoid a collision.

When Drivers Should Avoid Using Cruise Control

Despite how convenient cruise control is, you should not use it all the time. There are situations when use of cruise control is dangerous, as it could greatly increase the risk of a crash:

  • In heavy traffic – Your risk of a rear-end crash could go up considerably if you use cruise control in a traffic jam. It is hard for cruise control to maintain a consistent speed when it needs to constantly slow down and speed up. It is better for you to take control and stay completely focused on driving.
  • At night – Using cruise control often leads to drowsy driving. This behavior is particularly dangerous at night. By allowing cruise control to take over, you may be more likely to fall asleep or lose focus on driving.
  • On hills – You need to be cautious on hills whether you are using cruise control or not. If you go too fast up the hill you could rear-end someone on the other side. Cruise control may make this more likely.
  • On winding roads – Winding roads are dangerous, and you need to closely monitor and adjust your speed on each turn. If you are going to use cruise control on a winding road, make sure to reduce the speed.
  • In bad weather – If the road is wet from rain, snow or ice, speeding can make a crash much more likely to happen. If you use cruise control, you may be more likely to speed. This also applies to bad road conditions.

Call Schmidt Kramer to Discuss Your Car Accident

If your crash was caused by a driver who was speeding, distracted or otherwise acting carelessly, that driver may be liable for damages you suffered. This includes the cost of your medical treatment, both now and in the future.

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience helping the injured in Pennsylvania. We do not charge upfront fees for our services and the initial legal consultation is free of charge. We have secured over $100 million on behalf of our clients.

We are ready to help you seek full compensation. Call (717) 727-2550.