Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cruise Control Dangers

This will be short and maybe not too sweet but short none the less. There is an inherent danger for those people who, like myself, in their normal highway driving use cruise control daily. The danger I speak of is hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when the speed of the vehicle impacting the surface of water, or snow even, and the tires can no longer dissipate the liquid under them which in turn lifts the tires from the road. Like a boat on the water, the faster it travels the higher out, and on top, of the water it gets. When this occurs you have essentially lost control of the vehicle. How do you remedy this dangerous situation? Simple, don't panic! Begin a controlled deceleration of the vehicle till gravity pulls your tires back through the liquid layer to the road surface, regaining the lost traction.

Why have I stated that cruise control could be dangerous? Simple, when the tires no longer have contact with the road surface the cruise control will attempt to maintain the set speed, regardless of whether the tires are in contact with asphalt, concrete, mud, hay, or whatever. Here's where the danger begins. The road probably will not be completely covered in liquid and there will be semi dry areas you'll come in contact with. When this happens the tires will 'grab' the road and the computer will determine the new tire speed and compensate for it. The hydroplaning may have already altered your direction and when the tires bite the road you could potentially 'launch' the car in an unwanted direction. Here's where it becomes very important that you didn't go into panic mode earlier. When you start to feel the first effects of the hydroplaning, similar to encountering something thick on the road with small lurches in the feel of the vehicle, TURN OFF THE CRUISE CONTROL and DO NOT STOMP ON THE BRAKE PEDAL! These are the single most important things you can do to maintain control. Secondly, start a controlled deceleration(take your foot off the gas pedal) to a speed where you can still control the direction and speed of the vehicle. Third, make sure your white headlights are on, not just the yellow parking lights. You want to make sure others can see you and the changes you're making. If water buildup is really bad look for an overpass to stop your vehicle under till heavy rain slows and road surface conditions are a bit safer to continue on.

Who cares if you're late, live to reschedule.

No comments: