The use of cruise control by 18 wheelers in this country in misunderstood by most truck drivers and the public. In a recent case being handled by the firm that resulted in the tragic loss of a family member, it has become clear that the public is in greater danger when big rig drivers use cruise control at night at highway speeds. It seems clear that drivers become more reliant and relaxed — with less focus on the task at hand.
Professional truck drivers owe a duty to the public to drive in the safest manner possible. Most 18 wheelers weigh at least 80,000 pounds and catastrophic events occur when they collide with passenger vehicles. The use of cruise control often makes truck drivers less attentive to the roadway, and therefore have a reduced reaction time when events occur that require these drivers to respond to an event. When combined with night time driving (that often goes along with sleepiness and driver fatigue), this can lead to disastrous results. Companies have numerous options to make the roads safer — including a device that disengages the cruise control when the truck’s headlights go on or even when the windshield wipers turn on.
Our driving public deserves a safe roadway. More research and action should be taken to regulate the use of cruise control on commercial big rigs to make our highways safer.