Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

Cruise control failures 'rare but not impossible'

There have been several documented incidents over the years

Cruise control failures are uncommon but have led to accidents. Michael Tullberg / Getty Images
Cruise control failures are uncommon but have led to accidents. Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

This week, Abu Dhabi Police rescued a motorist who claimed his cruise control had malfunctioned, leaving him speeding down a busy highway at 130km per hour.

Such malfunctions are very rare.

But there are numerous documented examples of cruise control systems failing, leaving motorists behind the wheel of a car they do not know how to slow down.

Last year, a driver in Sharjah reported his car being stuck going at 120km per hour. Police were dispatched to clear the road in front of him.

Like the more recent incident, the driver was spoken to over the phone and a patrol car in front of the vehicle allowed the speeding vehicle to bump into it, bringing it to a halt.

The incidents do not always end safely. In 2016 in the UK, a driver was decapitated after crashing into a lorry. In an eight-and-a-half minute phone call to police, he had claimed the cruise control was stuck and that he could not stop the vehicle. An investigation failed to find evidence of the malfunction he described, with the car’s data recorder destroyed in the collision.

Drivers who encounter the problem are generally advised to attempt to slow the car by using the gears, shifting the vehicle to neutral and using the brakes if possible. If this fails, drivers should try to remain calm and call the police for assistance if they can.

Turning the engine off is an option, although this is should seen as a last resort as doing so can disengage power steering, making it harder to avoid other traffic.

Following the incident this week, police issued a reminder about the importance of regular maintenance, which can stop malfunctions occurring in the first place.

Updated: May 25, 2019 12:09 PM

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