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Old 10-29-2006, 12:17 PM   #1
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Cruise controls & wet/slippery weather

I don't know how many other people were NOT aware of using the cruise control on wet and slippery pavement. Found this in the news and thought I would post it for others. Since it is the season for wet and slippery conditions. This came from State Highway patrol news.

"A 36 year old female had an accident several weeks ago and totaled her car. A resident of Kilgore, Texas, she was traveling between Gladewater & Kilgore. It was raining, though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydroplane and literally flew through the air. She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the sudden occurrence! When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened he told her something that every driver should know - NEVER DRIVE IN THE RAIN WITH YOUR CRUISE CONTROL ON. She had thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe consistent speed in the rain. But the highway patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on and your car begins to hydroplane -- when your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed and you take off like an airplane. She told the patrolman that was exactly what had occurred. The highway patrol estimated her car was actually traveling through the air at 10 to 15 miles per hour faster than the speed set on the cruise control.
The patrolman said this warning should be listed, on the driver's seat sun-visor - NEVER USE THE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN THE PAVEMENT IS WET OR ICY, along with the airbag warning. We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed - but we don't tell them to use the cruise control only when the pavement is dry.
The only person the accident victim found, who knew this (besides the patrolman), was a man who had had a similar accident, totaled his car and sustained severe injuriies."
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Old 10-29-2006, 12:26 PM   #2
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This same subject came up at a driving class my company holds every year. It was a surprise to many of the people. Thanks for the safety tip!
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Old 10-29-2006, 12:30 PM   #3
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I'm passing this on to my 3 kids and two new-to-driving grandsons as well as my DH. I'd never heard this either. I agree: the caution belongs on the visor of all cars along with the warning about the airbags. ~G
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Old 10-30-2006, 12:29 PM   #4
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In August with my wife driving along the highway south of Golden, BC we hit a dip or sag in the road that had water in it. It had rained earlier that day but for the most part the roads were dry and it appeared quite safe to use cruise control. We learned later that a Coca Cola van had earlier hit the same area and done endo's. In our case the rear wheels lost traction for just a second, then the rear passenger wheel caught first and it fired us across the road at full speed. We hit the boulder strewn ditch and then slid sideways down the highway for 200 plus feet. The car was destroyed but it did it's work, the airbags deployed around us, and for the most part we were unscathed. Whether the cruise control caused the accident or not is unknown, as it was clear from skid marks around the dip that others had similar experiences, but it was certainly a part of it. We knew the issues with cruise in wet or slippery conditions, we just thought it was "dry enough". We have a new rule in the household - if we are not sure the roads are completely dry we don't use cruise control. It was quite a learning experience for us. Mind you, my wife did get a new car out of the incident so if there is an upside, that was it.
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Old 10-30-2006, 03:07 PM   #5
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Have I got the logic right on this??? The driven tire(s) start to accelerate, due to ice or hydroplaning, the cruise control tells the engine to slow down, and then, when the tires regain traction, the cruise control "punches the throttle" to regain the set speed - causing a loss of control. Did I miss anything??? I'm not questioning the wisdom of disengaging the cruise control during inclement weather - but simply trying to understand the "why."

I remember hitting a stretch of black ice one time, doing about 60 mph, and seeing the RPMs go sky high before I realized what was happening. The thing that woke me up was the beginning of a slow counter-clockwise rotation of the truck. Fortunately, I was able to correct and stay on the road - but I wonder what would have happened if I had been using cruise control. I can surmise that the vehicle may have regained traction just about the time I was 30 deg off my line of travel. Any steering correction I had cranked in would probably have caused a spin in the opposite direction - or some other calamity! Scarry!
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:12 PM   #6
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I also would see a explanation of how this can happen.
What I think is that if you start to hydroplane you lift your foot fron the accelarator within 1 sec or so.
The responce of the CC is al lot slower.
So if your cruising with 60 mph and 2000rpm .
You start to hydroplane with one wheel , the revs shoot up till let say 6000
that is 3 times faster than normal ,this would make the hydroplaning wheel turn at a extreem high speed .
Becouse you don't have a limited slip dif all the energy is goin to the wheel that is hydroplaning.
And due to the construction of the dif this wheel will turn at the dubbel speed compared to normal conditions.
( If you would jack up the car and block one wheel , than the free turning wheel will turn with a speed of 100 mph if there is 50 mph on the speedo)
So with the numbers I gave the hydroplaning wheel is turning well over 200 mph.
So when the unloaded wheel get grip again there is a lot of force.
The CC is to slow to lift the gas only when you hit the brakes the CC shuts of fast.
And hitting the brakes while hydroplanig is the last thing you want to do.

What we have learned when hydroplane starts DON'T streer , DON'T brake , PRESS the clutch ( with a auto trans lift trottle about 90% )

Maby someone with better englisch than me can explain it better.

But am I right with my conclusions.
Remco
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:17 PM   #7
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More light on the subject can be found at:
The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/autos/techno/wetroad.asp

I hadn't realized this was a problem until this thread was created.
Thanks for the warning, if it only prevents one accident it will be more than worth it.
regards
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:25 PM   #8
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First, it is unwise to use cruise control in slippery conditions; no question about that. You just aren't in COMPLETE control of the vehicle when you loose traction or when you regain traction, but logic would say that the cruise control measures the speed of the transmission which controls the speed of the wheels that are supposed to have traction. They should turn at 55 MPH wheather they have a load on them or not. So loss of traction should not cause them to speed up or slow down. The danger is that your wheels are still going 55 MPH when you regain traction even though your vehicle has slowed a little and that sudden jolt in a direction that is counter to the direction you were in (trying to correct for the spin) compounds your lack of control and compounds your spin. I hope this makes sense because I'm trying to finish before I hit the road for home.

While this first sounded like an urban myth when I first read it, I don't doubt anyone's experience because I had a 1980 Datsun 310 when I was in college, you remember them, they are now Nissans. It had front wheel drive and the car wasn't properly balanced. The car would hydroplane at 30 MPH, no joke, and the front wheels (it was front wheel drive) would spin and the rpm's would head for the red zone before I could get my foot off of the gas pedal. It was not a safe car in the rain. But on the other hand, it had great traction in snow as long as you stayed under 25 MPH! All of the weight was focused on the front axle but it always stayed straight when it hydroplaned.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I had an accident and totaled it when a 1978 Buick Regal crossed the line and hit me head on...we were both going 35 MPH and the other car's only damage was a broken grill (plastic) in front of the radiator. Probably was never repaired. That's why my wife drives one of the biggest tank on the road! I drive an even bigger tank. :LOL:

Seriously, don't use cruise in slippery conditions if you know they exist. And use caution if you think they might.
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Old 10-30-2006, 11:13 PM   #9
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Good post

Lots of appropriate concern here on the subject. One clarification though - the car will not "literally fly". Unless you head off a cliff. I'm sure that some drivers may feel like they were flying due to lack of control, but it doesn't happen like that.
Only in the movies. (Kinda like cars blowing up every time they crash or catch fire)
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Old 10-31-2006, 12:15 AM   #10
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Hi, I believe that hydroplaning is dangerous and that cruise control could affect your control of the vehicle, But [in Fords that I worked on] If the wheels lose traction and the RPM goes up, the cruise control shuts itself off. Raise your vehicle off the ground. Hold the throttle at 35 MPH holding it as steady as humanly possible. Then set the cruise control. Now let off of the gas pedal. It will sense the reduced speed, accellerate way past 35 MPH and shut off. I don't disagree that the cruise control helped cause the accident; I just don't agree with the explanation.
How did the Highway Patrol know how fast the cruise control was set at? And if the car lost all traction, due to hydroplaning, How could the car gain 10 to 15 MPH in estimated speed? As for listing this information on the sun visor; Most people don't read anything until the damage has already been done. I have been employed at new car dealers since 1968 and I could never count how many times a customer came in to the dealership with a concern about something not working correctly on their car. Then I would ask them if the read their owner's manual. I also can't count how many B.S. excuses they gave my for not reading this wonderful book of knowledge.

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Old 10-31-2006, 04:54 AM   #11
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Cruise Control on slipery roads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker
Have I got the logic right on this??? The driven tire(s) start to accelerate, due to ice or hydroplaning, the cruise control tells the engine to slow down, and then, when the tires regain traction, the cruise control "punches the throttle" to regain the set speed - causing a loss of control. Did I miss anything??? I'm not questioning the wisdom of disengaging the cruise control during inclement weather - but simply trying to understand the "why."

I remember hitting a stretch of black ice one time, doing about 60 mph, and seeing the RPMs go sky high before I realized what was happening. The thing that woke me up was the beginning of a slow counter-clockwise rotation of the truck. Fortunately, I was able to correct and stay on the road - but I wonder what would have happened if I had been using cruise control. I can surmise that the vehicle may have regained traction just about the time I was 30 deg off my line of travel. Any steering correction I had cranked in would probably have caused a spin in the opposite direction - or some other calamity! Scarry!
Hi Cracker; You are 100% on the money! Very good anology. The second issue is the loss of directional stability of the vehicle, which is even more pronounced in rear driven vehicles. Also, there is not enough time for response after the driven wheel contacts the road again, under the cruise control demand for acceleration. Sudden acceleration surprises you, and your corrective measures may be too late. Thanks Cracker, "Boatdoc"
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Old 10-31-2006, 07:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS
Then I would ask them if the read their owner's manual. I also can't count how many B.S. excuses they gave my for not reading this wonderful book of knowledge.

Bob
I know what you are saying. My wife has never even looked in hers. That's what I'm for.

I used to read my owner's manual cover to cover religiously when I would purchase a new car. I was so in to new cars that I was facinated to know every little detail. I actually remembered nearly every detail I read. Those were simpler times, mechanically speaking. My '05 PSD came with what reads like a dictionary and is darn near as thick. I must say I haven't read it nearly thoroughly enough in the year and a half that I have had the truck. There is just too much to digest in one sitting and I hit the high spots and saved the technical stuff for later. Well, later still hasn't come yet. I'm sure it should have by now but, you know, life gets in the way some times especially when you have family and other new toys like Airstreams. I'm sure life gets in the way for most everyone when it comes to reading their automobile's owner's manual.

BTW, I have read most of the owner's manuals that came with it. I find them overly simplistic.
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:30 PM   #13
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I know in our case we had just come through a corner so the car was still turning slightly when it lost traction. Thus, the rear of the car started to slip sideways. It all happened in an instant and perhaps reaction time was a bit slow given driver being lulled a bit from a long drive already. The witnesses coming the other way indicated they thought the back of the car had swerved over a bit towards the shoulder. My wife thinks she might have tapped the brakes already and that the cruise was off and that she had her foot on the gas pedal but she just doesn't remember exactly. I still suspect the cruise was on. Regardless, it sure opened our eyes. Since this happened we've spoken to quite a few people who also learned this the hard way. There was an upside to this whole thing. I had the flu right from when we left home. Bad heart burn, hot and cold sweats, just feeling lousy. When the ambulances came it turned out I was in the early throws of a heart attack and had we not had the accident and the health problem run it's course we would have been a lot further out from the emergency services folks and who knows what would have happened. Oh well, God takes care of us in mysterious ways,

Barry
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