Car with adaptive cruise control radar.

If you’ve been car shopping recently, you have seen adaptive cruise control (or ACC) touted as a feature on new vehicles. But what does this benefit entail, and how can it work for you?

Basics About Adaptive Cruise Control

The concept of cruise control has been around for decades as a means of enabling drivers to keep their vehicles at a preselected speed. Adaptive systems take this idea a step further by adjusting speeds so that your auto keeps a safe distance from the vehicles in front of it. For example, if the vehicle directly ahead of you slows down, the adaptive system will in turn slow your vehicle down.

This type of system may be known by several different names, including intelligent cruise control, dynamic cruise control, active cruise control, automatic cruise control, radar cruise control, and distance control.

System Operation

The tech has come a long way since the first such system in the early 1990s. On-board sensors propel current technology. Radar, lasers, cameras, or other combinations of sensory equipment evaluate the surrounding traffic conditions. By detecting close-by vehicles or other potential objects in the road, the sensors can communicate optimal times for braking or acceleration.

ACC and Autonomous Tech

Autonomous, or self-driving, cars will be heavily reliant on cruise control enhancements. In their current forms, these cruise control systems are semi-autonomous. They are typically combined with other advanced driver assistance features such as lane centering and automatic emergency braking to provide the vehicle with increased levels of autonomy and safety.

Benefits of Adaptive Cruise Control Systems

As noted, an obvious advantage of these systems is their ability to strengthen safety. Fender benders resulting from following another vehicle too closely should be less likely. In addition, drivers will become more aware of potential hazards before they are visible, whether the obstacle is a tricky turn or an animal in the road.

These easy-to-operate systems also place less stress on traffic flow and on individual drivers. When more motorists are following the rules of the road and maintaining safe speeds, accidents, and traffic snarls naturally decrease. And stressed drivers can worry less about managing their fuel in heavy traffic or being on high alert for every potential problem. The vehicle itself becomes their ally.

ACC may not be available on all vehicles, please contact your local dealer with questions about feature availability and operation.


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