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The History of Cruise Control

Posted on May 31, 2018.

Cruise control is a feature in most cars driven in the United States. It’s a convenient feature to have on those long cross-country road trips or when the Parkway is empty. However, we don’t typically think much about it.

While cruise control dates to 1788 when an early version was used in steam ships, modern cruise control was invented in 1948. In 1965, the first car with cruise control was introduced to the market by American Motors. Eight years later, during the 1973 oil crisis, cruise control gained popularity because it was advertised as a way to save gas.

You probably already know that the cruise control button can be found on your steering wheel. Once you set the desired speed, cruise control will maintain that speed without you having to keep moving your foot up and down on the gas pedal. Older cars used a cable that was attached to the actuator, which would make sure the car stayed at the set speed. These days, unless a model is equipped with adaptive cruise control and uses a completely different system, a vehicle will have an electric motor take the place of the cable.

As for adaptive cruise control, the first company to bring it to market was Mercedes-Benz. Initially, adaptive cruise control used either radar or laser system. Both systems allow a driver to set a speed and distance they want between their vehicle and the one in front of it. These systems will slow the vehicle down if it detects a car in within the distance the driver has set.

Regardless of which system a car uses, those with cruise control systems are required to have two ways a driver can turn them off. One of those is automatically when a driver touches the brake. The other one is when a driver touches the button on their steering wheel to turn it off.

When your using cruise control, it’s still important to pay attention to the road. It’s also not wise to use cruise control off of a highway and in rainy or snowy weather because those conditions change at a moment’s notice. Remember cruise control is a tool to make driving a little easier. It’s not a crutch to rely on.