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Does cruise control cause more harm than good?

Many California drivers like to use cruise control on long commutes or road trips. It allows you to stretch your legs and sit more comfortably. However, research suggests that cruise control may increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Why should drivers think twice before using this feature?

Decreasing attention, increasing drowsiness

Cruise control makes it easy for a driver to take their mind off the road and lull into drowsiness. One study reports that cruise control increased the incidence of drowsiness among drivers by 25 percent. Drivers using cruise control tend to be less vigilant and relax into their surroundings instead of watching for potential danger and regularly adjusting their path.

This relaxed, drowsy state decreases reaction time. On average, it takes drivers an extra second to correct their steering or brake in an emergency. This delayed reaction may cause a serious motor vehicle accident.

What can you do?

Many car manufacturers are developing cruise control that responds to the external environment. If the car senses that an object is too close to the car, the vehicle will automatically slow down. While this is a useful feature, the automation may provide a false sense of security. Drivers still need to be alert and ready to respond to another motorist's poor decisions, unexpected pedestrians or other objects in the road.

The safest decision is to forgo cruise control and to force your mind and body to engage with the task at hand. While you may not be as comfortable during your journey, you may be able to avoid an accident.

You can make conscious decisions to increase your road safety, but you cannot make good choices for the drivers around you. If you are hit by a drowsy or distracted driver, you may be able to pursue the compensation you deserve.

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