Using cruise control for around town?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

My question is about speed control. I use mine for just
that, to avoid
getting speeding tickets. I use my speed control in
speed-limited areas,
like when I have to drive 25 or 35 mph. Will my
cruise-control switch wear
out? Should I just use it on the highway? Or is it OK to use
the cruise
control all the time, even around town like I have been? --

TOM: You will wear out the switch eventually, George, but
that's not what
worries me.

RAY: The real problem with using cruise control in a 25 mph
zone is that
it's dangerous. When the speed limit is 25, it's 25 for a
Unpredictable events may require you to stop all of a

TOM: It may be a densely populated street where little kids
play, or a
school zone. And they're telling you to drive 25 mph so you
CAN stop
suddenly if you need to.

RAY: Normally, when you're driving in an unpredictable
place, here's what
happens. You have your foot on the gas as long as you can
see that
everything is clear ahead. If you're not sure what's coming
up, your foot
then comes off the gas, and you coast and slow down until
you figure what's
going on. If you see something that looks dangerous, your
foot -- which is
already off the gas -- moves onto the brake.

TOM: By setting the cruise control and relaxing, you
eliminate that middle
step where your foot is off the gas, and the car is slowing
down while you
figure out what's going on. And that makes it harder to stop
in time when a
kid darts out after a ball ... or my brother darts out after
the frosted
donut he dropped.

RAY: So I'd save cruise control for the highway. And if you
want help
slowing down in those 25 and 30 mph zones, try putting the
transmission in
a lower gear. Putting it in D2 (or second gear) will
moderate your speed
AND slow the car down faster when you take your foot off the
gas. Try it.

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