Cruise control a bad idea during icy, rainy conditions

    Officials from the Iowa DOT say drivers often get a false sense of security while driving with cruise control. (CBS2/FOX28)

    The Iowa DOT and experts at the University of Iowa’s Advanced Driving Simulator are warning all drivers to not use cruise control during conditions that are icy or rainy.

    “Sometimes when you use your cruise control it just gives you a false sense of security,” said Cathy Cutler, transportation planner for the Iowa DOT. Cutler says after hitting a slick spot, many drivers will but the brakes to turn off the function, further losing control of their vehicle.

    “When you skid, you don’t want to brake,” said Cutler. “You just want to let up on the gas, steer into that skid, and regain control of your car.”

    Dr. McGehee, director for the National Advanced Driving Simulator, says they’re able to mimic icy conditions using simulation to demonstrate why functions like cruise control become ineffective.

    “Cruise control keeps the speed of your car at a set speed, but as soon as it encounters something slippery, it will try to accelerate to maintain that speed,” said Dr. McGehee. “So the wheels will slip. If you’re doing that at 70 miles an hour on Interstate 380 you could momentarily lose control.”

    Dr. McGehee also says that cars with four-wheel drive aren't fail-safe.

    "Many cars that have four-wheel drive are the ones that are in the ditches," said Dr. McGehee. "Many times the drivers that have the all-wheel drive cars think that they’re much more invincible."

    Instead, no matter what you drive, Dr. McGehee and Cutler advise everyone to drive well-under the speed limit during icy conditions, and always buckle up in the front and back seats.

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