Silly Laws and Cases – Grazinski v. Winnebago: When Cruise Control Isn’t Autopilot

Don’t do this while driving your motor home!

In the annals of legal history, there are cases that become legendary for their sheer absurdity, shedding light on the fine line between personal responsibility and common sense. Among these is the peculiar case of Grazinski v. Winnebago, a lawsuit that captured the nation’s attention and raised critical questions about the use of technology in vehicles, particularly motorhomes. This bizarre court case serves as a striking reminder that cruise control is not autopilot and that drivers should always remain in the driver’s seat.

The Story Unfolds

The Grazinski v. Winnebago case revolves around a seemingly ordinary road trip gone awry. In 2004, a man named Richard Grazinski purchased a brand-new Winnebago motorhome, excited to embark on a journey across the open road. With the motorhome’s cruise control engaged, Grazinski decided it was an opportune moment to leave the driver’s seat and make himself a cup of coffee.

Picture the scene: a motorhome hurtling down the highway with no one at the wheel, while the driver relaxes in the back, savoring his freshly brewed coffee. Unsurprisingly, chaos ensued. The motorhome, unguided and unchecked, crashed into a ditch, causing extensive damage and raising questions about Grazinski’s actions.

The Legal Battle

Grazinski, undeterred by his own actions, filed a lawsuit against Winnebago Industries, the manufacturer of the motorhome. His argument? He claimed that the motorhome’s owner’s manual did not explicitly state that he couldn’t leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was engaged. He asserted that he thought cruise control was tantamount to autopilot and should have safely guided the vehicle.

The court, however, did not share Grazinski’s perspective. The judge ruled that cruise control was not a self-driving feature but merely a tool to maintain a consistent speed. While the motorhome manufacturer could have been more explicit in its warnings, common sense should have prevailed. Drivers should always remain in control of the vehicle and maintain full attention to the road while using cruise control or any other similar feature.

Lessons Learned

Grazinski v. Winnebago serves as a whimsical yet instructive example of the importance of understanding the technology in your vehicle. While advancements in automotive technology have led to features like adaptive cruise control and even autonomous driving capabilities in some vehicles, these systems are not a substitute for responsible driving.

Drivers must remember that, no matter how advanced a vehicle’s features may be, they are ultimately responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle. Leaving the driver’s seat while using cruise control or any similar system is a recipe for disaster, as Grazinski discovered.


The case of Grazinski v. Winnebago reminds us that technology in vehicles should augment our driving experience, not replace our vigilance. Whether you’re driving a motorhome or a compact sedan, understanding the limitations of your vehicle’s features is essential to ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road. So, next time you engage cruise control, remember, it’s not autopilot, and the driver’s seat is your rightful place.

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This blog is intended to provide general information and, therefore, should not be treated as legal advice. You should contact a qualified attorney for questions about legal issues.