Cruise control is an automatic electronic device that controls the speed of a motor vehicle. Cruise control is what experts refer to as a “servomechanism.” It takes over the throttle of a motor vehicle to maintain a steady speed as set by the driver.
Most cars now come with cruise control. If it functions as designed, it should keep the vehicle running at speed set by the driver until the driver either disables cruise control or presses the brake. It is sometimes referred to as “speed control,” “cruise command,” “autocruise,” or “tempomat.”
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) is a new version of cruise control. It uses contemporary sensor technology, including cameras and lasers. It can detect other vehicles close to a person’s car. It can warn a driver of possible hazards, adjust the car’s speed to conditions and even automatically apply the car’s brakes to avoid a collision.
However, recent reports claim that ACC systems might create an even greater risk of accidents because of speeding. In one study cited, drivers who used ACC exceeded the speed limit 95 percent of the time. This does not happen with traditional cruise control.
This is because ACC systems set a car’s speed to match the leading car in a line. Speeding while cruise control is engaged can be especially dangerous if the driver is not paying attention to the road ahead or able to respond to an emergency because they are not focused.
What Are Defective Cruise Control Accidents?
Defective cruise control accidents may occur when the cruise control mechanism in a car malfunctions while the car is in operation, e.g., traveling on a road or highway. This may happen because of any of the following issues:
- Manufacturing Defect: A manufacturing defect is a defect that results because something was wrong with the way the cruise control was produced;
- Design defect: A design defect is a defect that results because something was wrong with the design of the cruise control. Most often, cruise control defects are related to a combination of defects in the electrical and computer components of the car and a defect in the mechanical operation of the vehicle;
- Warning Defect: A warning defect is a defect in warnings about a product’s hazards or a failure to provide instructions that adequately inform a driver of the correct way to use cruise control.
Defective cruise control accidents can be very dangerous. They can occur because:
- The defective cruise control fails to allow the driver to stop or slow down;
- The defective cruise control causes the car to accelerate uncontrollably;
- The cruise control stopped working as it should, even though the driver did not turn it off.
In cases where acceleration beyond the speed at which the cruise control is set is an issue, malfunctioning cruise control can present an extremely dangerous situation. In some documented instances, cars have reached such excessively high speeds that speed led to dangerous collisions, roll-overs, and other types of accidents.
However, cruise control can also be dangerous if the car slows unexpectedly and when deceleration is dangerous. For example, on a crowded interstate where traffic may be moving at 60 mph and higher speeds, it can be dangerous for a car to slow too much or unexpectedly. This creates a risk of rear-end collisions.
In 2022 the owners of Honda Civic automobiles reported that their cruise control systems were deactivated suddenly and without any action from the drivers. The owners reported that they could regain the power to activate the cruise control only by pulling off the road, turning off the car, and restarting it.
What Are Some Other Legal Issues Associated with Cruise Control Accidents?
In some cases, a cruise control-related accident may have been caused by the driver’s negligence rather than a defect in the cruise control system. Reportedly, in many cases, accidents had resulted when drivers used cruise control for long drives when they were sleepy or intoxicated but wanted to drive anyways or continue driving without stopping. The results were predictably negative.
The use of cruise control in rain, snow, or icy conditions is not recommended because, in those conditions, a vehicle can slide on wet or icy roadways. Also, if the driver applies pressure on the brake, which is how cruise control is deactivated, it can cause the vehicle to veer out of control and cause an accident.
Some experts think cruise control promotes distracted driving because drivers using it do not have to monitor the dashboard to monitor their speed, and they lose awareness of their driving. If the system malfunctions, they are not paying attention to the situation.
In such cases, if an accident results, the driver may be held civilly liable for negligence or criminally liable for reckless driving, especially if they knowingly continued to drive after experiencing drowsiness.
Cases involving drunk driving can lead to more serious consequences, including criminal charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).
Are There any Legal Remedies for a Defective Cruise Control Accident?
If a person is injured in an accident caused by defective cruise control, they may need to take legal action to recover compensation for any property damage and personal injury they suffer. They may file a lawsuit based on a strict product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. In such cases, the lawsuit may lead to a damages award, which can cover the victim’s losses, including the following:
- Medical Expenses: The cost of all necessary hospital and medical treatment for their injuries;
- Property Damage: The cost of repairing property damage or, if a car is totaled, of replacing the car;
- Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity: Lost wages and loss of earning capacity if a person is permanently disabled by their injuries;
- Pain and Suffering: This element of damages compensate a victim for their injury’s mental and emotional aspect.
In some cases, defective cruise control issues may result in a car recall or other similar measures. Some lawsuits seeking compensation for personal injury may be filed as a class action suit if many people have been injured in accidents related to the problem with a cruise control system. The damages they would be able to recover would be the same as in any personal injury case, as detailed above.
If another driver’s negligent use of cruise control or ACC has caused an accident in which a person is injured, they will file a lawsuit for negligence against that other driver.
Do I Need the Help of a Lawyer for My Defective Cruise Control Accident?
Cruise control accidents can be very dangerous and involve serious injuries to several parties. If you have been involved in an accident related to cruise control, you should consult a car accident lawyer in your area for legal help.
Your attorney will be able to address your questions and can research what role a cruise control system plays in your case. A lawyer can access engineering experts to determine if a defect in a car’s cruise control system caused the accident. Also, if you need to appear in court, your lawyer can provide representation during all court appearances.
If you have been charged with a crime concerning your use of cruise control, you want to consult a criminal defense lawyer.