What is cruise control?
For those who might not know, Cruise Control is a feature that lets you cruise at a particular speed without having to keep your foot on the accelerator. You set the speed and lift your leg from the gas pedal. The car automatically keeps travelling at the set speed and all you need to do is steer the car. Earlier it was only available in luxury cars. However, due to its increasing popularity, nowadays it is also being offered in many affordable cars like the Volkswagen Polo, Honda City and Mahindra Scorpio.
What are its benefits?
Cruise control is generally engaged while travelling above the speed of 50kmph. It is a very useful feature for highways as the driver feels less fatigue on long distance journeys. People who do extensive inter-city travel should consider it.
But how useful is it for the Indian traffic scenario?
Well, you must be aware how good the roads in our country are. According to reports published by the government, more than 140,000 people were killed in road accidents in 2015. To deploy cruise control you need to have an open and disciplined stretch of road. You would rarely get a chance to engage it inside the city and even if you do, you have to constantly hover your foot around the brake and look for random pedestrians. Although the purpose of cruise control is to make your driving hassle-free, if you do use it, thanks to poor traffic behaviour, you end up being more cautious. Additionally, constantly engaging and disengaging cruise control makes this convenience feature seem inconvenient to use.
However, the overseas traffic scenario is quite different. First of all, the roads are well built and everyone drives in a disciplined manner. The traffic is constantly monitored with the help of radars and cameras, and people do follow traffic rules strictly due to a rigid fear of the law and a culture of driving courtesy. You can engage cruise control and drive freely in your lane without the fear of a poorly trained or inconsiderate driver cutting you off - a luxury we unfortunately do not have in India.
Should I consider it?
Nowadays customers pay a huge amount of money for advanced features which are rarely used. For example, the expensive 4x4s are capable of traversing the most difficult of terrains. However, most of them are limited to the city boundaries and highway cruising during their lifetime. But, knowing that your car is capable of doing something, even if the chances of using it is very less, gives you a feeling of satisfaction. A car is a long term investment and cruise control doesn't cost much. It’s a useful feature to have even if you may not necessarily use it.
If your driving is primarily within slow moving traffic, cruise control in unlikely to be a feature you will use often, hence, you can afford to skip it. However, if you have extensive highway usage, cruise control is definitely usable in India. But it must be used with caution, as this convenience feature cannot be used as a tool to become a driver who isn’t alert enough.