Dangerous when wet: Cruise control

By Steve Rust
The owner’s manual of nearly every car and truck contains a warning something like this: Don’t use cruise control in the rain, snow, ice, steep and winding roads, or in heavy traffic.
The reason is simple. Cruise control is intended to maintain a steady speed in normal conditions. And those aren‘t normal conditions; they’re times a driver needs to be their most attentive.
Using cruise control on wet roads is dangerous because it may delay your reaction to an unsafe situation--puddles, an object in the road. With just fractions of a second to keep control, you may not be able to turn off the cruise and safely slow. Even worse, you may jam on the brake pedal, lock up the wheels and lose control.
Hydroplaning occurs when water in front of tires builds up faster than the car’s can push it out of the way. The car rises up and slides on a thin layer of water; the car literally leaves the road.
To avoid hydroplaning:
● Slow down in wet conditions, and, again, don’t use cruise.
● Steer clear of puddles; avoid outer lanes where water accumulates.
● Keep tires properly inflated.
● Replace worn tires .
 If you do hydroplane:
● Do not brake hard when needing to stop, as the wheels may lock.
● If you do skid, ease off gas and steer in direction you want to go. If you have anti-lock brakes, brake normally as you skid. If you don‘t have ABS, avoid using the brakes but if you must, pump them lightly.
(Sources: National Safety Council, safemotorist.com, AAA New York)

Steve Rust is the Safety Coordinator for the Kansas Turnpike Authority. 

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