Did you know that vanilla flavoring comes from castoreum, which could come from anal excretions of beavers used to mark their territories? If you didn’t, congratulations, you just learned a piece of very insightful and excruciatingly gruesome information about a common food ingredient. Guess we all won’t see desserts the same way again.
Just like you, I was today years old when I learned this fact about vanilla flavoring – funny how that expression goes which has been rampant among people online, but I digress.
In cars, there are a lot of ‘I was today years old’ moments, especially when dealing with newer vehicle technologies. Yes, even with my years of experience behind the wheel, some features still surprise me.
Case in point: vehicle speed limiters.
Vehicle speed limiters aren’t exactly new. Usually coming in tandem with cruise controls, this feature does what its name suggests – it limits the speed of the vehicle to the user’s set value. If the driver has set the limiter to 60 km/h, the car won’t reach 61 km/h, no matter how buried his or her foot is on the accelerator.
But I have yet to meet someone who uses this feature. I’m not sure why but I guess the convenience that cruise control brings to the table renders speed limiters useless. Of note, cruise control keeps the vehicle’s speed constant (or at least it tries to) without any input needed from the driver. In contrast, speed limiter needs the driver to step on the accelerator; it just won’t let the vehicle go over the set speed.
So, what gives? Why should people pay attention to speed limiters when cruise control is more convenient?
In one of the media vehicles I was testing a few weeks back, I decided to give its speed limiter a whirl, just for curiosity’s sake. I was traversing the NAIA Expressway and then it hit me: speed limiters are safer to use in short highway drives rather than cruise control. Let me explain.
When using cruise control, it’s important that you’re on your toes – literally, at least your right foot – so you can step on the brake whenever needed. That said, there’s a certain amount of anxiety involved that isn’t present when using the speed limiter. With the latter, you can just keep on stepping on the accelerator without going over the legal speed limit, and lift your foot whenever you need to slow down. It basically takes out the anxiety of checking your speedometer to see if you’re within the set legal speed limit while driving normally.
This makes driving safer as the vehicle isn’t working on its own. It also keeps the driver more alert, especially when cruising at low speeds like the NAIA Expressway or the newly built Skyway Stage 3.
If your car has a speed limiter, try it and you’ll see the difference that I’m talking about. You can thank me later for this information, and for the one you just learned about vanilla flavoring.