There’s a Facebook post that makes its rounds this time each year about the dangers of using your Cruise Control in the rain. It should come as no surprise that not everything on the Internet or on Facebook is accurate. In this case, however, you should heed the warning.
In fact, The National Safety Commission put out an alert in 2009 that states: “The safest thing to do when it starts to rain is to disengage the cruise control and lower your speed. Driving in the rain really requires heightened awareness and that seat-of-the-pants feel for the car. Save your cruise control for fair weather.”
Keep in mind, an automobile can begin to hydroplane at 35 mph. If you are going 55 – 70 mph, it becomes especially dangerous. The higher the speed, the greater the chance of hydroplaning.
Cruise control is a great luxury on long trips. Without constant feedback from you, the driver, cruise control will keep your automobile tires running at a constant speed. This advantage is also the problem when road conditions are poor. If there is ice on the road or even sufficient about of water (possibly mixed with debris), your car may start to hydroplane. However, on some vehicles, cruise control may cause the wheels will actually spin faster if you hit a slick patch on the road – then if the tires make contact with drier road again, you may lose control of the vehicle.
On many vehicles, cruise control is disengaged by tapping on the brake. Sudden braking while driving on slick roads is not recommended because it can put the vehicle in a state of hydroplaning or cause an already hydroplaning vehicle to go out of control. Antilock brakes and other newer technologies are helping to minimize some of these risks, however, the safest solution is to disengage cruise control in inclement weather and take direct control of the gas and brake pedals.
If you find yourself hydroplaning experts say:
- Stay calm.
- Ease your foot off the gas.
- Wait for the skid to stop.
- Steer in the direction of the skid.
- Brake carefully.