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Do semi-trucks have cruise control? What drivers should know

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Semi-trucks today have all kinds of equipment and technology designed to improve the driver experience. If you're new to the trucking industry, you might be wondering, ‘do semi-trucks have cruise control?

Keep reading to learn more about cruise control in semi-trucks and what other technologies are used to improve drivers’ safety.

Do semi-trucks have cruise control?

Yes, most semi-trucks are equipped with cruise control systems. Like in passenger vehicles, these systems let drivers pick a speed and maintain it without always having to constantly press on the accelerator pedal.

Types of cruise control in a semi-truck

Similar to passenger vehicles, many modern semi-trucks come with advanced cruise control features on top of the traditional system mentioned above. These advanced cruise control systems are designed to improve safety and efficiency.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

ACC takes traditional cruise control a step further by using a radar or laser sensor to monitor the distance to the vehicle ahead.

If the system detects a slower-moving vehicle in the truck's lane, it automatically adjusts the speed to maintain a safe following distance, without the driver needing to intervene. Likewise, when the vehicle is no longer tracked, the set cruise speed resumes automatically.

Predictive Cruise Control (PCC)

PCC uses GPS data and detailed terrain mapping to anticipate changes in the road ahead, such as inclines and declines. The system then automatically adjusts the truck's speed for optimal fuel efficiency and safety.

If the system detects a hill ahead, it may automatically accelerate the truck just before the hill and slowly decelerate just before the crest of the hill. This not only aids in maintaining a consistent speed but also helps in managing the vehicle's momentum, reducing wear and tear on the engine and brakes.

What are the benefits of having cruise control in a semi-truck?

Cruise control has lots of benefits for truck drivers when used in the proper conditions, including:

  • Reduced fatigue: Keeping the same speed without pressing the accelerator pedal reduces the physical demand on the driver and helps alleviate fatigue over long distances.
  • Safer driving: Maintaining a steady speed helps contribute to safer driving. This is especially true when combined with collision mitigation, lane assist and adaptive cruise control systems.
  • Fuel savings: Driving at a constant speed saves fuel because it avoids speeding up and slowing down too much.

How do you safely use cruise control when operating a semi-truck?

1. Know when it’s appropriate to use.

Cruise control should be used in ideal driving conditions, where frequent stopping and starting are typically not required. This means light traffic, clear weather and straight, open roads.

Cruise control should not be used:

2. Stay engaged.

Remember, cruise control (as with other safety systems) is not a replacement for safe driving procedures. Drivers must always stay fully engaged with driving and maintain control of their trucks and trailers.

Even though trucks with ACC will automatically slow when a vehicle is detected ahead, it is the driver's responsibility to maintain a safe following distance. Most cruise control systems with ACC will react to vehicles that are about 3.6 seconds in front of the truck. At Schneider, drivers are still expected to maintain a following distance of at least seven seconds and to double that in poor weather conditions. Cruise control is not an automatic pilot.

3. Understand your system.

Different semi-trucks come with varying cruise control systems, such as the ACC and PCC systems mentioned above. It's important to learn how the cruise control systems in your truck work. This will help you know what your truck will do in different situations and make you feel more comfortable driving it.

Want to learn more about Schneider’s semi-trucks?

Schneider has made many equipment and technology upgrades to its trucks to make them safer and more comfortable for drivers. Learn more about them and how you can get behind the wheel.

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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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