This time of year, everyone in Florida knows the chances of an afternoon storm happening where you are is almost a given. What many people fail to realize is one of the best features in your vehicle may be one of the worst to use in the rain.Cruise control is a great gas saving device as well as helping with speed control to help you avoid speeding tickets. But along with the money saving benefits it can also have a downside.
When driving in the rain a driver needs his complete attention a the road and depending on cruise control can give a false sense of security. Rain presents two dangerous conditions both with similar end results. At the beginning of a rainstorm the water mixes with the grease, oil and road grime to create a condition not unlike ice on a winter road. After the road is washed by the rain and especially during heavy sudden downpours, the water can start to pool on the surface of the road causing the tires to skate on top of the water in a condition known as hydroplaning.
In either case the car may start to slide and the first thing a driver should do is take his foot off the gas but not apply the brakes. You want to slow the vehicle but not suddenly and be prepared to steer into the slide. This is where cruise control creates the problem. Cruise control is designed to keep a constant speed but speed is not what you want. Tapping the brake will disengage the cruise but that's also not what you want to do. 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.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, www.FHWA.dot.gov, 24 percent of vehicle accidents are weather related. On average, 7,130 people are killed and more than 630,000 are injured in weather related crashes nationally each year. Another valuable resource is The National Safety Commision, www.nationalsafetycommision.com. Safety is no accident, slow down and be aware of the road.