Any experienced driver knows that being on the road for hours is exhausting. That’s one of the reasons why so many cars feature cruise control.
Cruise control helps the vehicle maintain a steady pace without the driver using the gas or brake pedals. Unfortunately, any defense attorney can attest that using the cruise control can also lead to driver boredom and distraction.
Does Cruise Control Help or Hurt Drivers?
More than one person has sought the assistance of a defense attorney after being in an accident. Usually, this person finds that they are being sued for being at fault in an accident and causing significant injuries. The defense attorney is rarely surprised when they hear that cruise control was being used before the crash.
What the defense attorney knows and the average person doesn’t is that drivers are less engaged when they use cruise control for extended periods. Because the driver doesn’t have to make constant speed adjustments, they tend to tune out of driving. They get distracted by the radio, the GPS, their passengers or a multitude of other factors. Any defense attorney will also be familiar with the connection between cruise control usage and sleepiness. Driver fatigue seems to enhance with use of cruise control.
Scientific studies in Europe have found this to be a relatively common phenomena. In fact, one study found that using cruise control dulled reaction times, often to a dangerous degree. Some drivers hit the brakes 85 yards after they should have done so to avoid an accident.
For this particular study, the participants were divided into three age groups. Although subjects from all age groups showed delayed reaction times and increased fatigue while using cruise control, one group in particular had the worst showing. The youngest drivers, between the ages of 18 and 30, were far outperformed by older drivers.
While cruise control can be useful, any defense attorney could argue against its prolonged use. Staying active and engaged is a better way to drive.