Some drivers love it. Others don’t trust it.
It’s a debate played out in cars, often between couples: when should you use cruise control and how much does it improve your gas mileage?
Bob Larkin is the Director Of Automotive Service Tech at Dunwoody College of Technology.
“The basis is really to help with driver foot fatigue on a long trip,” Larkin says about the purpose of cruise control.
RELATED: WATCH: Automatic Emergency Braking fails in multiple crash tests, AAA shows
Larkin says he trusts it under the right conditions.
“Minimal traffic, minimal distractions, road’s pretty level,” Larkin said. “That’s probably the thing that it’s really most designed for.”
As for gas mileage, Natural Resources Canada did a study in which a car was set to 50 mph on cruise control. It consumed 20% less gas than a car cycling between 46 and 52 miles per hour every 20 seconds.
Looking at today’s gas prices in Oregon, that’s about $1 per gallon you’re saving on cruise control.
But, again, there are places you shouldn’t use it, such as in the city.
“Taking the time to set that cruise control, then have to disengage that between city blocks can sometimes become a hinderance,” said Larkin.
Other places Larkin says not to use it are on hilly terrain or when you’re tired.
“Just so the driver’s more actively aware of what’s going on,” said Larkin.
And manufacturers recommend not using cruise control when the roads are slick. So when there’s snow, ice or rain, keep it turned off.
“So if the driver’s actually in control you’ll have a little more feel, a little more sense of what’s happening and can react quicker,” said Larkin.
Newer cars have adaptive cruise control. It can sense if the car in front of you is slowing down then speeding up again when it’s safe to do so. But, it’s probably a good idea to keep your foot ready to hit the brakes, if necessary.
Another feature people rely on in today’s cars is automatic emergency braking. But as you can see in the video below, tests by AAA show that this system fails in multiple situations.