Any truth to this?


Old 09-01-03, 06:22 PM
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Question Any truth to this?

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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 excessive, when her car suddenly began to hydroplane and literally flew thru 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 --


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.

We all know you have little or no control over a car when it begins to hydroplane. You are at the mercy of the Good Lord. 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 drivers
seat sun-visor --


- 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.


My work truck has cruise control but I rarely use it, never heard of this before....has anybody else?

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Old 09-01-03, 06:59 PM
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I think you'll find a warning note on cruise control literature recommending you turn it off on wet streets. Having said that, I confess to using mine rain or shine with no difficulties. Just have to remember that if you SHOULD go into a skid/hydroplane, you need to tap the brake pedal to disengage.

In my opinion the piece (which I too recieved via e-mail making it a possible urban legend), is somewhat overdramatic - if your tires loose contact, i.e. hydroplane, the car cannot "accelerate to a higher rate of speed" (ref: I. Newton). What MIGHT happen is the engine speed may increase to try to maintain the set speed; however, the crusie control does NOT SENSE vehicle speed per se, it senses the speed of the drivetrain. All the cruise control knows is the drive train is turning at x rpm and the engine adjusts to maintain the rotational speed. If the tires break contact, the control will attempt to keep the drivetrain rotating at x rpm, even if the car is sliding sideways, is airborne, or upside down, none of which would be a GOOD thing.

Here's my $.02 worth; there is NO WAY you can go into a skid/hydroplane with cruise on and end up going 15 mph faster.

Here's some good info:

Bottom line? Probably a good idea to turn it off if in doubt, but please don't forward the e-mail you get on the subject to everyone in your address book.
Old 09-01-03, 07:09 PM
mike from nj
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a very similiar thing happened to my friend. he was driving on the interstate with the cruise on, with intermittent small patches of packed snow here and there.

as he approached a very gradual hill(something you might not even notice) it is normal for the car to want to slow down(uphill), the cruise control then opens the throttle to maintain speed, that combined with a small patch of snow, sent him into a spin onto the center median.

i can picture the same thing with a large puddle. you plow into it, you instantly lose 5-10mph, the cruise module says-whoa, i'm supposed to maintain 45mph---let's open the throttle until i hit my mark, except you are three inches deep in water(or snow) and the rear tires instantly speed up---instant spin out!!

it might have seemed like she was going faster than the set speed, most likely it was just an uncontrolled spin--with the drive tires spinning madly.

it can happen

good idea to pass that useful info to everyone here

Old 09-01-03, 07:14 PM
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Without going into this to deeply, it seems to me if the tires break loose with cruise on they will increase the speed of rotation and if anything the cruise will cut the throttle just as if you were going down a hill and picking up speed....Mike
Old 09-02-03, 06:51 AM
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Looks like a 4th Gen Chevy F body . Hopefully she fared OK.

Sounds like she was going WAY too fast for the conditions and THAT was the cause of the accident.

In bad weather (snow, rain, etc) YOU want to be in control of the throttle (modulating it, on and off the gas), so the LAST thing you want is the cruise control commanding the throttle for you in such conditions.

Bottom line: It wasn't the cruise control.
Old 09-04-03, 07:31 AM
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I agree, urban legend--no way possible!
Old 09-04-03, 07:26 PM
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Thankx for the tips and advice!! With 2 new drivers in the family I thought it was worth asking as I was unfamilier with the cruise controls.

Old 09-05-03, 06:10 AM
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Sure Jeff, no problem.

Your hair will be grey or missing with a few new drivers in the family.

I have a clean driving record and have been driving 15+ years and I can tell you I gave my parents grey hairs when starting out (and I was never a hot rod).

Nature of the beast being a parent I guess. I don't know, I'm not one .

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