By on January 23, 2012

I’m currently testing the Mazda3 Skyactiv, and even though the automatic transmission is better matched to the car (more on that later) I’d still opt for the excellent 6-speed manual, even though 94.5 percent of consumers feel the opposite way.

That puts me firmly in a single digit minority of customers who choose a stick shift – but a news report out of Sacramento offers an interesting premise – manual transmissions reduce distracted driving.The report shows how one family bought their daughter a manual Honda Civic to cut down on texting while driving. While this is hardly empirical or scientific, it’s a novel approach to a pretty serious problem among teens, and flies in the face of the constant push for smartphone integration in new vehicles.

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175 Comments on “Are Manual Transmissions The Answer To Distracted Driving?...”


  • avatar
    JCraig

    I agree completely. Most of the cars I’ve owned (current one included) are manuals. I can only do so much while driving around town, and it’s better that way.

    I say we launch a safety campaign here and now, on TTAC. Manual transmissions save lives, especially your childrens’!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Fahey

      Won’t matter. Eventually everyone will drive hybrids with CVTs, albeit some “sportier” than others. Maybe someone will concoct a way to simulate an old-fashioned manual transmission complete with realistic stalls, bucks and peel-outs. We already have artificial exhaust notes.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        @Robert: as i’ve stated before…THEY CAN PRY THE KEYS (yes, keys!) TO MY I.C.E. POWERED CAR FROM MY COLD DEAD FINGERS.

        And i’m 28. There’s still a few of us gearheads left, although some have traded in their third-gen Camaros and Fox-Body Mustangs for iPhones…

        Sure, i’m a Honda fanboy, but NOT hybrids. Of ANY kind. When you don’t have to replace the $5-6k batteries every 2-3 years in cold climates (in which I live), then i’d consider getting a hybrid (unless Hydrogen becomes viable and affordable). Until then, not a chance. :)

      • 0 avatar
        redrum

        “When you don’t have to replace the $5-6k batteries every 2-3 years in cold climates (in which I live), then i’d consider getting a hybrid”

        Um, you don’t. Where did you come up with this nonsense?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “Sure, i’m a Honda fanboy, but NOT hybrids. Of ANY kind. When you don’t have to replace the $5-6k batteries every 2-3 years in cold climates (in which I live), then i’d consider getting a hybrid (unless Hydrogen becomes viable and affordable). Until then, not a chance. :)”

        140k miles and 8 years on my wife’s Prius battery. Replacement is something like $3200 from Toyota, $1500 used/rebuilt. It costs about as much as a transmission and needs to be replaced about as often. Considering that the Prius’s mechanical transmission is a planetary gear set that is far simpler than a typical automatic transmission, it’s no wonder the car is so reliable. The Prius is a wonderfully reliable, dependable, and efficient AtoB family transportation appliance.

        On the other hand, if you want a car that’s fun to drive, then the Prius probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

        The folks who were skeptical about the batteries back in 2001 when the Prius was introduced were right to be wary. But, seriously, the car has been on the road for well over a decade, and the one in my driveway is the comfortable well-worn sneaker of our cars. That concern was addressed years ago. The Prius is proven old technology these days. If you want an unproven bleeding-edge green car, you’d have to buy a LEAF, a Volt, or a C-Max Energi.

        P.S. What’s a cold climate to you? I live in the Midwest, and my in-laws think it’s a cold climate, but I find it to be quite temperate. If you live anywhere north Fairbanks, you might have a point — but Prii do fine in the upper Midwest, and do wonderfully here in Illinois.

        P.P.S. I’m not asking you to like the Prius, since it’s clearly not the car for you. However, I do request that you keep your facts straight. I’ll give you some defensible criticisms of the vehicle to get you started:
        1. The steering is a little touchy on the highway, so it’s a fingertips vehicle on the Interstate. This means it takes more attention to drive on 500-mile road-trips.
        2. Midwestern side-winds (20mph gusting to 35) also means that it takes extra attention to drive, and also shut down the efficiency.
        3. The regenerative braking prevents rust from being removed from the brakes. So, if you start it up on a rainy morning, the brakes can be a little grabby through 4-5 stopsigns before the brake pads/shoes really clean the rust off of the brakes.
        4. In cold weather, the car uses significant amounts of gasoline to warm up the engine block and the inside of the car, meaning that the gas mileage is merely excellent, rather than awesome.
        5. It’s a small passenger car. It’s more useful than most cars its size, but small passenger cars aren’t good for sport-driving, towing, or hauling heavy loads.
        6. Toyota stacked the deck by designing an efficient car AND THEN putting a hybrid in it. If you just throw a hybrid drivetrain into a 5000lb SUV, the benefits will be limited. Hybrid drivetrains are only part of the efficiency puzzle — the rest is plain old engineering done well and optimized for the purpose.

        P.P.P.S. The other cars in my driveway are a 2002 Ford Escape. I recently owned a 1997 Ford Ranger. I co-own a 2004 Ford F-150. I’m not a Prius worshipper, I’ve just been impressed with the machine for what it is. I’m also a stickler for accuracy, and I like using the right tool for the right job. Both the Escape and the F-150 are wonderfully engineered vehicles but, like the Prius, they’re not the right tool for every job.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I find them intently safer in the winter. If you start to slide, depress the clutch and the car straightens right up. Meanwhile, slushbox drivers lay into their ABS and spin on by – SUV drivers seem to be the worst offenders, followed by foreign luxury cars.

    • 0 avatar
      MT

      Learned on a Beetle, and drove manuals for 30 years until my knee couldn’t take rush hour shifting anymore, my last being an Accord Wagon. I’d agree with whomever said you drive a stick and steer an auto, but I’d like to try one of the new double clutch set ups. My current Volvo wagon seems some days to be constantly looking for a better gear.

    • 0 avatar
      bufguy

      I own a 1981 VW Scirocco with a 5 speed…back then over 90% of Scirocco’s sold had manuals….The Scirocco has no cup holders, no power steering and no automatic…Driving becomes a full time activity…no cell phones, navigation, drinking coffee….and you know what…its fun !

    • 0 avatar

      Manuals will NEVER make a comeback. The average driver wants to have their right hand or left hand free to do things like talk on cellphones, reach back to fix their baby’s bib, etc, etc. Not to mention the herky jerkiness and roll back issues.

      Then there’s the complication of having to use three pedals…

      Sure it makes the driver more involved, but, the average driver doesn’t want to be fully involved in driving. THE FREE MARKET HAS SPOKEN !!!

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        You can’t really say THE FREE MARKET HAS SPOKEN. Manufacturers decide what to build. They figured out a long time ago that most people, even those that like a manual, will still take an automatic if it’s the only car available on the lot. Why not push the cars w/ the $1000 option of an auto? Now they build just enough manuals to remind you that an auto is in fact an optional feature. In my opinion this has done more to push manuals out of the market.

      • 0 avatar

        THE FREE MARKET pushed manuals out. If manuals were so desirable, people would flock to their makers. Now, the manual is the optional feature.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        Your statement is technically incorrect, bigtruckseries. Go run a configurator on almost any car that has a manual transmission available, and you will have to add the A/T to the config (and to the base MSRP).

        Anyway, yes, the market for appliance cars has gone slushbox, end of story. Enthusiast cars (exhibit A, the Miata) still have high take rates. We can live with result, since hoons aren’t going to ever want a beige Corolla. It might as well drive on rubber bands.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        That would be true if you could find every car combination available when you went to the dealer. I can’t find a manual Sonata, anywhere. This is the culmination of years of manufacturers and dealers starving the supply of manuals until people can’t drive them anymore. This only works to the advantage of the manufacturer and dealer selling more expensive cars. More manuals would be sold if more were available.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        When we bought our Elantra Touring my wife went with the slushbox because they had siscounted it *cheaper* than the manuals that were being shipped to the dealer. None were on the lot, of course.

        You’d think it would dawn on these dealers why they can’t keep manuals on their lots…

        Anyway, the technical point remains: the “standard” for the MSRP of the car is the manual, whether they let you buy it or not.

      • 0 avatar
        blau

        THE FREE MARKET PAINTED THOSE TURDS!!! Who are you to not eat them?

      • 0 avatar

        No, the average driver doesn’t want to be involved, but as manuals became more and more scarce, it became harder and harder to find them. My best friend would have liked to keep having manuals, but the last time he bought a car, it was just too much work to find a good one with a manual. Kids don’t learn to drive sticks because no-one has them anymore, unless their parents know someone like me who will teach their kid to drive a stick (I’ve taught more than 10 kids to drive sticks; one of them now actually owns a car with a stick).

        I would remind bigtruckseries that Taurus was (probably)the first family car not to offer a manual, back in ’86, despite the fact that there probably would have been a fair amount of demand for a stick back then.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        Holzman – My best friend also prefers manuals but is driving an automatic because it was all that was on the lot. There are a decent number of people I know that prefer manuals but have autos for the same reason. Obviously autos would still be the dominant choice, but I still say the ratio would be much higher if manufacturers were making them.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        It’s not surprising that dealers of appliance cars like the Elantra and Sonata wouldn’t stock manuals — that’s just not what most buyers in that segment are interested in, and those dealers are focused on volume above all. (Although I believe, if you really wanted one, you could special order a manual; IIRC, if you order through Hyundai, you only have to wait about a month for delivery.)

        But it doesn’t follow to extrapolate that to the rest of the market. My local Acura dealer, for instance, stocks manual TSXs, and there was at least one manual AWD TL available in the metro area. I’d be surprised if BMW and Audi weren’t the same way.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        darkwing – You’re talking about niche vehicles, sporty/entry luxury with a manual appealing to a few enthusiasts. I’m talking about mass market manuals. There are people who want a practical affordable car with a manual. Remember all the reasons people used to buy Corollas and Accords with manuals? Better mpg, better reliability, more fun, lower cost. My hunch is that easily 20% of cars purchased would be manual if they were on lots.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        I was more on the tail end of that trend, but the way I remember it was that most people with mass market manuals had them because they couldn’t afford the automatics. (Kind of like mass market cars without A/C.) Certainly this was true among my friends at the time. Sampling bias, I know, but that’s the way I remember it.

        Enthusiasts nonwithstanding, of course, my sense is that most of those manual drivers weren’t going to be seeking out another manual, if they could help it. (And this was in Florida — i.e. flat and not snowy. I can imagine the market pressures would be greater in regions with hills and icy weather.)

      • 0 avatar
        Vance Torino

        @David Holzman:

        Don’t blame the ’86 Taurus!
        It actually came with a 5-speed manual transmission with the 2.3L four through 1989. In the base car. Even made a wagon from ’86-’88!

        (B&B: PLEASE HELP ME FIND ONE OF THOSE! email vancetorino@gmail.com There must be at least one not too rusty one left?)

        And don’t forget the ’89 SHO – manual only!

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        I grew up in FL and agree that manuals down here are a rare sight. When I lived in the NW for a few years they were much more common.

        Cost was certainly a factor in choosing manuals but reliability and performance was a bigger factor IMO. Automatics do not have a good track record for long term durability, and until recently a 5 or 6 speed was much more efficient. But manuals were being phased out by manufacturers long before 5+ speed autos were the standard.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        JCraig – if you’re ever on St. Pete Beach and see a Silver Audi A4 with a “Save the Manuals!” sticker go by, be sure and wave to me. :)

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        Sure thing! I’ll be googling for one of those stickers too!

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        http://shop.caranddriver.com/store/hfmedia/en_US/DisplayCategoryProductListPage/categoryID.49796200/parentCategoryID.19556100

        :-)

      • 0 avatar

        #1 I only buy high performance/luxury cars. I’ve never bought a Hyundai and never will.

        But say I did go to Hyundai right now, like when I drove the R-Spec again to review it, Their cars are all sold as Automatics with manual requiring a deposit, order and 1 week wait.

        “Opting” for a manual is usually about saving a couple hundred dollars. Thing is, the dealers almost always stock their lots with Automatics so the manual becomes rarer and rarer to the point it’s a special order.

        Furthermore, DRIVER’S ED SCHOOLS typically teach on Automatic Corollas or Civics. The first car I learned to drive was an auto Civic. In my state they don’t teach manual.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    Certainly. Ever try to talk on the phone, put your car in gear and make a 90 degree turn at a light in town with a Manual? Takes skill (or stupidity, whatever you want to call it). Having a manual to begin with keeps the driver, I feel, more attentive and more in-tune with their surroundings and with what their vehicle is doing. And that’s not even getting at the fact that it’s more fun and gives you a greater sense of control. So would more manual transmissions on the road cut down on distracted driving? Probably, at least for a little while until people become comfortable enough to text, shift, steer and accelerate all at the same time anyways. Or until they hit top gear..

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      People can still be distracted while driving a manual. As soon as you get comfortable enough with the car they will go back to what they do. The only thing that keeps me from texting and driving is my common sense. I could do it just as well in a manual as an automatic if I wanted too.

      • 0 avatar
        blau

        So can I, and I sometimes do. And then I pause in my texting to shift the gear, and as I’m shifting the gear with the same hand that’s holding the phone, I realize how stupid it is to text while driving, and I put the phone down.

        Point is: the manual transmission requires more engagement from me than the automatic, which makes it harder for me to forget how stupid texting and driving is.

      • 0 avatar
        Slab

        I got stuck behind a driver in the left turn lane going really slow. It was a green light, so I couldn’t figure out his damage. Turns out he was fiddling with his phone. With one hand on the wheel, there wasn’t a spare hand to shift out of second.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        And don’t forget the steering with your knee trick.

        However, the flip side is also true. When traveling with my family overseas, my dad was driving a stick, and I saw proof that human beings don’t multitask. There’s only so much you can do–shift, navigate the roundabout, look for signs, signal, etc. Considering the number of missed gears, hit curbs, nearly missed turns we had, I certainly didn’t feel safer all the time.

        You can only focus on so much at a time, and the more tasks you have to perform, the less you can focus on each. That’s a minus for manuals. However, IMO, the biggest problem with safety is casualness; instead of focusing on what they really should, they are distracted with phones, music, work, etc. If driving a manual keeps the focus on driving (note, not focus on your car, but on how you are interacting with the road & traffic), then it probably would reduce accidents.

        But the simplest check is insurance data. If there was a statistical difference between manuals and automatics, I’d be confident that insurance companies would find a way to charge more for the more ‘dangerous’ option.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The primary culprit of distracted driving crashes is when a driver looks out of a window that isn’t the windshield.

    If we were to take this factoid to its most logical conclusion, then the solution to the great distracted driving crisis would be to fit everyone with a neck brace. But somehow, I don’t see that working out too well.

    As far as transmission choices go, there isn’t much to support a linkage between gearboxes and crash rates. The US has seen a steady decline in fatalities, even though automatics increasingly dominate the market. While I personally like to shift my own gears, I accept that it’s mostly for my own entertainment, and not for safety’s sake.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      I am of the firm, if completely scientifically unfounded, belief that manual transmissions and proper mirror placement would significantly reduce the number of crashes not caused by mechanical failures.

      Force the driver to use all four limbs to operate the car, and you’re not only less able to fidget with gadgets with your free ones, but less likely to get bored and pick one up to begin with.

      Point the wing mirrors out to the sides where they belong, and the driver saves an extra half-second of attention to the road each time they would have otherwise twisted their head around to see their “blind spots.”

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        I am of the firm , if completely unscientifically unfounded belief, that I am sick to effing death of people telling me that my mirrors are adjusted “wrong” because they don’t suit somebody else’s priorities. I’ve yet to be surprised by a vehicle in my “blind spot”, because I do this really outmoded thing while driving called “paying attention”.

        If the half-second it takes to turn your head and look makes a difference, you’re doing something majorly wrong – probably tailgating, possibly allowing other vehicles hover in your immediate vicinity for no good reason.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        Of course, having a car with a proper greenhouse rather than gun-slit windows and foot-thick pillars can greatly reduce those blind spots to begin with. Well-aimed mirrors are part of the puzzle, but a car with usefully-sized windows is another.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I am of the firm, if completely scientifically unfounded, belief…

        That’s the great thing about driving — it often provokes strong feelings that don’t have much to support them. Often, those strong feelings are quite wrong.

        As far as I can tell, the jury is still out on this one. There are a few studies that I am aware of.

        One study (Selander et. al. (2011), Does Automatic Transmission Improve Driving Behavior in Older Drivers?) found that older people drove better with automatics than they did with manuals, whereas younger people were about the same (although the younger people were a bit quicker with a manual when making left turns.)

        Another study (Shinar et. al. (2002), Effects of uncertainty, transmission type, driver age and gender on brake reaction and movement time) found no differences in reaction time and braking time between those driving manual and automatic transmissions

        There was a pilot study (Cox et. al. (2006), Manual Transmission Enhances Attention and Driving Performance of ADHD Adolescent Males) that reported that young males with attention deficit disorder were more focused with a stick. But unlike the other two studies, which had larger sample sizes and were based upon observations of people in driving simulator or car, the results of this were self-reported and involved only ten people. So the study justifies having a larger, better study, but isn’t that useful by itself.

        In any case, there isn’t much evidence to support the position that “engagement” prevents crashes. If anything, “engagement” would lead to more crashes if it increased aggressiveness.

        People who comment on these threads just assume that less distraction is necessarily good. I wouldn’t just assume that. If distracted driving is replaced with something worse, then it isn’t an improvement.

        And since there is research that suggests that drivers who put down their phones respond by speeding up and making more lane changes, then the elimination of the distraction is not necessarily a plus. Increased attention won’t be a panacea for safety if it does not promote more conservative driving.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Gotta side with Pch101 on this one. That so-called “news report” reeks of MTF (Manual Transmission Fanboyism), and offers about as much scientific food for thought as the Book of Revelation.

      After years of manual transmission bias, on everything from a sweet-shifting Honda Civic Si to an eyeball-sucking Yamaha XJ1100, I was forced into automatics by marriage, or more specifically the desire to remain married. But guess what? The latest generation of 6-speed electronic slushboxes really are better for most people under most driving conditions. They are fairly slick pieces of engineering.

      If I ever buy another manual, it will be for personal pleasure and not some b.s. safety rationalization.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        Well said. My main daily driver has a slush box and my fun car (Miata) has a manual, so I completely identify with your statement.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Gotta agree with Don here. After three decades of continuous ownership of manual transmission vehicles, my lovely wife has informed me that she is tired of the neck-snapping ride no matter how smoothly and expertly I shift. I recently carted around a friend and his eight year old daughter in my manual Honda Element. She got car sick. Sure, sitting on top of the axle in the back contributed to her woes, but it was clear to us that she was not used to the to-and-fro motions inherent to manual shifting and it upset her stomach.

        The writing is on the wall: manual transmissions are doomed, no matter how much enthusiasts cherish them. As dual clutch transmissions become more polished, their ability to provide fuel mileage equivalent to a manual will ensure that sporty cars will come with them as standard equipment. The DSG in my GTI is pretty good and while my personal preference is to row my own, I can say that I don’t find the experience too objectionable. Using the flappy paddles on the steering wheel is actually kind of fun.

        • 0 avatar
          voxleo

          Dude, that just means you SUCH at shifting. I shift smoother than any auto I’ve ever ridden in. You are shifting too late if you are bucking like that, because the power you get past a certain RPM’s becomes a diminishing return as you accelerate, and your rate of acceleration is changing, not just your speed. If you shift before you peak in power, then when you engage the next higher gear, you should feel where the two acceleration curves meet, not letting them overlap so much, or you aren’t quick enough on engaging the clutch and your RPM’s drop too far past the gear you’re shifting into.

          That poor girl was not used to CRAPPT shifting, which is plenty popular in many of the older automatics, which is why I acturally preferred to ride with someone who could drive since there was no gear lag. HOnda improved things a great deal with their technology for keeping a constant acceleration curve in their AT’s, but I remember auto transmissions being very much like a bad boatride when I was a kid.

          My dad gets seasick just thinking about a boat, but I am one of the few people he can ride as a passenger in a car with, because I don’t actually make him ill with my shifting habits.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Yes, obviously, a teenager driving a stick-shift car is more likely to be engaged with the surrounding traffic and much more aware of other drivers’ (bad) decision-making, obliviousness, etc. Later this year our older child will get her permit, and we have two 5-speed, not-too-new, not-too-old Subarus, a Legacy wagon and a previous-gen Forester, waiting for her to learn on. (Also, a friend has offered the use of an automatic Impreza as a transitional car, so she can learn the basics before learning to shift.)

    • 0 avatar
      Franken-Subie

      I’d highly recommend teaching her basic shifting in an empty parking lot before the other driving basics on the road in an auto. Nothing impresses on a teenager the fact they’re driving a heavy, complex machine more than actually having to shift it.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      “Obviously”? Why? Because this is TTAC and you have to say that?

      Face it. The average teenager will smoke, drink, and text regardless of whether they drive a manual or automatic. Forcing a bad driver to drive a manual cannot possibly make them any safer. It will merely add to their distractions, and their sense of invincibility.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        Man, I wish there was texting when I was learning to drive. This new generation gets all the breaks. I could only drink and smoke at the same time – oh, and gnaw on a Big Mac. Does that count?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    My kidlet has a couple of more years to go, but she is going to learn how to drive manual.

    1) I believe you’re more engaged with the conditions and traffic around you; hard to text and shift in traffic

    2) You have better control in bad weather with the proper training on gear selection

    3) It is becoming an increasingly valuable anti-theft anti-carjacking device as fewer and fewer people can drive manual

    4) It is a good life skill to have, never know when you’ll have to drive manual, whether it be for work or fun, or travel, especially abroad.

    • 0 avatar
      Beelzebubba

      Wow…um, I’ve heard of ‘active parenting’ but I it sounds like you may actually practice it…I think it’s a felony in California now….

    • 0 avatar
      mx6er2587

      Amen to number 4.

      I badly sprained my knee playing soccer a few years back. My car was parked at the feild in a lot where it would have been towed if left overnight. Of the 40 some people there only one person was able to drive me and my stick shift home.

    • 0 avatar
      DucRam

      APaGttH – I agree 100% with all four points. I would add another:

      5)It means you don’t have to worry about other people (friends) driving the car, since they probably won’t know how to drive a manual.

      My wife and I both drive a stick and will be teaching our daughter how to drive one in the near future. Her first car will be a manual.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m of two minds about this. Sure, having to have both hands available to perform important functions (shift and steer) is a requirement for driving manuals. However, some people have gotten good at steering with their knees. The learning process for a manual is slightly more daunting than that for an automatic and some beginners have a naturally panicky disposition.

    I finally learned how to drive a manual and enjoy it, for the most part, but I continue to need to make adjustments to my technique because I still time shifts badly from time to time and stall out every so often. Some may think that they are damaging the car when this happens and may be too scared to go anywhere (good thing?).

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Yes, but only to an extent. I’m a die-hard manual driver, and can still find plenty of ways to be distracted. It takes some doing but driving stick with only one hand is certainly possible.

    It does however preclude texting almost entirely, especially on a touch screen phone.

  • avatar
    Feds

    You whippersnappers and your manual transmissions. You want to curb distracted driving? How about manual timing adjustment, or manual oil pressurization. That’ll keep you focused on the task at hand.

  • avatar
    nvdw

    So as long as people drive manual transmissions, they will most likely refrain from texting while driving? If that was true, most of my fellow countrymen wouldn’t even think of using their phone in the car.

    Oh wait.

    They DO.

    Once ‘daughter’ has got the hang of driving a stickshift, she won’t have any trouble using her phone in between gear changes. Or during gear changes even.

  • avatar
    86er

    All I know is that when I read accident reports involving TWD and the words “skid marks” do not appear, and the words “collision occured in shoulder of oncoming lane” does appear, this can’t keep happening.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      With the ever increasing percentage of vehicles on the road being equiped with antilock brakes, skid marks are becoming less and less pertinent as a diagnostic marker.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        I appreciate that, however, the young lady in the single-occupant vehicle did not look up from her phone the entire time and collided with the dual-occupant vehicle in the shoulder of the oncoming lane suggesting obvious lane departure.

        The presence of ABS is irrelevant when the driver of the single-occupant vehicle did not apply the brakes at all before collision.

  • avatar
    Shane Rimmer

    I don’t know that it helps, honestly. My commuter car has a manual transmission, but my commute is so mindless and I’ve been driving a manual for so long, that I still catch myself reading emails and texts while driving it. Shifting the car is pretty much a muscle memory after a while, so not much more is gained in the way of driving awareness. It’s sort of the same as steering. Novice drivers pay close attention to every input to the wheel, but nobody who has been driving for a while even thinks about it.

    Heck, I’ve seen people on motorcycles reading text messages.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Let me start by saying I am a big proponent of the idea that rowing your own makes you pay attention to the job of driving more.

      That said, I agree with your statement wholeheartedly.

      I am 28 and have only had manual transmissions on my primary vehicles the entire time, though since getting engaged and married I also am in possession of an auto for the wife. Shifting gear for me is second nature to me from doing it for this long, and I would go so far as to say that I stopped thinking about it entirely about 10 years ago.

      I know subconsiously what 3000rpm sounds and feels like and shift without thinking. My phone is in a cradle at the top of the dash too and is my primary music player, so I can change tracks, glance at a text or email, check google maps for traffic, etc. without taking my eyes far from the road (though I normally do everything except the change tracks thing at red lights).

      Now if I’m out hooning whether it be an empty twist backroad, the auto-x course, or the racetrack, I do have to think, glance at the tach, and pay attention to the sound of the engine to time my shifts before fuel cutoff. But daily driving? Please.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    as a passenger of my friend who was driving his stick shift at 60mph, talking on a cell phone, rolling down a window, and smoking a cigarette at the same time, my answer is no, it is not the answer.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Manual Transmissions still only make sense for people who don’t live in regions with heavy traffic congestion. This has not changed. So if you live in the styx then go crazy, hoss. The rest of us who have to live near enough to (or inside of) a city in order to find a job to afford owning a car are going to opt for automatic nearly every time. Those of us with good enough jobs to afford a second, toy car, will get an manual then.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Manual Transmissions still only make sense for people who don’t live in regions with heavy traffic congestion.

      Obviously, YMMV but I prefer a manual in typical traffic as the ability to use engine braking seems smoother and less work than the constant gas/brake you have with an automatic.

      • 0 avatar

        To me, “heavy” traffic means that you inch forward one foot, then stop for 30 seconds. In that situation, the creep you get when you lift off the brake in an automatic is perfect, and far less work than operating the clutch.

        I’ll still never drive an automatic though!

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Shift to L.

        Problem solved, you’re engine braking in an automatic.

        (Automatics are engine braking all the time they’re not accelerating or exactly maintaining speed, in fact…

        It’s just a little less obvious because of the torque converter, and because it’s some small actual effort to force a downshift.)

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        I always drove manual while living in California’s Bay Area and actually found it much more relaxing than driving my wife’s auto. First-gear engine braking is your friend in the “stop” half of “stop-and-go” traffic. No need to stab at the brake constantly.

        Urban Europe would seem to agree, though Asia’s definitely on board with you.

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      Oh, is that what us city dwellers are going to opt for almost every time?

      I live and commute in and around Boston. I have both automatic and a manual daily drivers in my house, and I much prefer the manual.

      I think almost all of Europe would disagree with you.

    • 0 avatar
      A Caving Ape

      I live and work in the city (PDX) and almost never feel the desire for an automatic. (the only situation where I do is high speed arterials with lots of traffic lights.)

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      “I live and commute in and around Boston. I have both automatic and a manual daily drivers in my house, and I much prefer the manual.”

      “I live and work in the city (PDX) and almost never feel the desire for an automatic. ”

      I don’t think the fact that there exists a subset of readers on a car enthusiast blog disproves my point. And I believe that 94.5% qualifies as “almost every time” yes.

      TTACers (as handsome, and brilliant as they are) are the exception, not the rule.

      • 0 avatar
        Jesse

        “I don’t think the fact that there exists a subset of readers on a car enthusiast blog disproves my point.”

        That’s a good point. The funny thing is – and this is a completely unscientific guess – I’ll bet there are more manuals in the city than in the suburbs around here. You’re likely to see more small city cars like the Fiat 500, Mini, Fit, etc that have a higher manual take rate.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        And I believe that 94.5% qualifies as “almost every time” yes.

        True – but it’s not as if they did a side by side comparison and chose the automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        “You’re likely to see more small city cars like the Fiat 500, Mini, Fit, etc that have a higher manual take rate.”

        Maybe, dunno.
        I would imagine rural areas are where you really would want a manual.

        “True – but it’s not as if they did a side by side comparison and chose the automatic.”

        No, I imagine in most cases a manual transmission was never even under consideration.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        @Jesse:

        I suspect that a higher percentage of manual-shift cars in the city is due to the cars themselves – many mid/full-size cars are more difficult to find with a manual gearbox, and they tend to be better suited to an automatic. In the city, where parking can be a serious challenge, a small, space-efficient car is far more important than in more rural areas – and historically, automatic-equipped subcompacts have been wretched penalty boxes, although improvements in technology have generally narrowed the gap.

      • 0 avatar
        Jesse

        @Fuzzy:

        I was thinking the same thing, my brother-in-Volvo.

  • avatar
    4-off-the-floor

    Is that a shot of a Mazda Protege 5-speed gear shift?

    I ask because that sure looks like what I drive now.

    • 0 avatar
      Snavehtrebor

      I was thinking mid to late ’80s 626. Damn fine shifter, transmission, and vehicle in general, now that I look back fondly.

      Manuals help drivers drive simply because it’s nearly impossible to (sensibly) shift and steer while simultaneously holding a phone to your ear. Typing should be out of the question. The key word is “sensibly”.

      I had a neighbor who lost the use of one arm, and most of his mobility in one leg, when he had a stroke. He immediately traded his manual Camaro for an automatic Diahatsu, which was small enough to wheel around with one arm (and one foot). Anyway, I guess I’m saying that you need two arms and two legs to operate a manual. Most drivers have these, but they only use one of each to drive their automatics, so why not play Angry Birds or something else stupid while you’re stuck in the car?

  • avatar
    brokeguy

    Stepson got sideswiped twice in 6 months, first time by a full size SUV while driving the 1989 Toyota Camry we got for him, second time by a F250 while driving my 1990 Dodge Dynasty. Each accident wasn’t his fault, but his defensive driving skills just weren’t there. For the third vehicle, me and the wife thought he might do better in an SUV. She found a late model Isuzu Rodeo 4 cylinder with a 5 speed manual, we taught him how to operate a manual transmission, and one burned-out clutch later he appears to be a much more attentive driver. Not sure whether it’s the additional size of the vehicle or the manual transmission making him pay more attention to what’s going on around the car, but it sounds like a valid premise to me.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      As a former owner of an Isuzu Rodeo I suggest you rethink your logic. After 8 months I sold that ill handling beast! The only time I’ve rear ended another driver was in my Rodeo because the darn thing took so long to stop. Now the 4 cylinder / 5 speed combo will keep him from going too fast, that’s for sure, ’cause I had the V6 and it was a slug. Granted the vehicle I owned before the Rodeo was a Honda Prelude Si, a quick(ish) vehicle with excellent handling characteristics.

      While I don’t think a manual is the fix-all for distracted driving I’m sure it helps. For example I don’t even bother grabbing a soda when I’m in my 350Z, however I almost have a drink in my truck because its an automatic. Since I don’t smoke I need something to do with my other hand. Funny thing I’ve noticed is that even on the highway (sometimes even with the cruise engaged) I keep my hand on the stick shift. Just feels better holding onto something I guess. The other reason: the stick is close to the radio so its a quick flick to change stations. Oh wait… that means I’m distracted anyway ;)

      • 0 avatar
        brokeguy

        +1 on the slow, i’m just glad he hasn’t flipped the thing over. Once I put some new shocks on it handled better, but he definitely won’t be autocrossing it anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar
      bills79jeep

      Manual or Auto, who cares – I’d have been a lot more attentive if I’d been hit twice as a new driver too!

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        Having been in two crashes as a teenager – both hydroplaning highway crashes in front-heavy, rear-drive Pontiacs with drum brakes and bias-ply tires – I plan to seek out driving simulators that will enable my kids to “experience” crashes and perhaps learn how to avoid them. Such simulators do exist, don’t they?

      • 0 avatar
        FrankTheCat

        “I plan to seek out driving simulators that will enable my kids to ‘experience’ crashes and perhaps learn how to avoid them. Such simulators do exist, don’t they?”

        it’s called Grand Theft Auto. they can learn how to murder prostitutes, hide bodies, and effectively sell illicit drugs while they’re at it.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    When I was first learning, I found myself driving slower in manual than in automatic. I think one of the reasons is that with a manual, the gearing makes you settle in to a particular RPM at a given gear, whereas the slushbox, you’re removed from what the engine is doing to a lesser extent.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The types of roads that require frequent shifting* aren’t the types of roads that you text-and-drive on in the first place. The types of roads that people end up texting and driving are highway speed, steady state roads because they are boring to drive. Boring to drive leads to people thinking they can both text and drive. On these boring to drive roads, most manual transmission equipped cars do not require downshifting and there is practically no difference between an automatic and a manual at that point.

    I’m not even that big of a believer in the manuals are better in the snow thing anymore. Now that most automatics have a sport shift function, you can downshift to engine brake without having to push in the clutch and potentially unsettle the car. Unlike ATs of old, it is just a quick bump of the shifter, paddle, or rocker to change gear instead of moving the whole shifter through the gates.

    I buy MTs when possible because they are more fun. Nothing more, nothing less.

    * I’m excluding city driving for the moment because it is a whole other animal where you have brought pedestrians, cyclists, and frequent stop lights into the mix.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      If you exclude both steady highways and urban gridlock then what exactly is left? The 5 minutes a day of suburban driving to reach the highway that takes you to the city?

      Driving mainly in the burbs, I can assure you that many of the drivers who find their iphone more interesting than highway lane markings feel that way about suburban lane markings too.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I’m talking specifically about steady state driving (interstate, 55mph highway). I only excluded city driving. If you are driving a country road that requires a lot of downshifting, you probably aren’t texting and driving for fear of ending up over the bank.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I can’t think of a quicker way to put a vehicle in a spin (2wd)or an uncontrollable slide (4WD/AWD) than to “downshift” an automatic while the car is accelerating or coasting downhill. This puts uncontrolled –and uncontrollable — braking on whatever set of wheels is connected to the transmission. Even ABS won’t save your bacon.

      Interestingly, the classic “drive in snow or ice” technique taught in Scandinavia, is when things get goosey with the car (as in sliding, skidding, etc.), students are taught to punch in the clutch, keep their foot off the brake and throttle and STEER THE CAR.

      As a lifelong manual driver, I would say the only advantage of manuals in the snow and ice is the ability to limit torque to the driving wheels by starting off in, say, 2nd gear, whereas a dumb automatic will always start in first gear. A number of automatics (including my Saab) have a “winter mode” that does the same thing. However, with traction control, even that is a somewhat moot point (although I’ve determined experimentally, that sometime you make better progress by defeating the traction control and allowing a limited amount of drive wheel slipping, so long as you have a locking or Torsen differential that keeps driving both wheels on the axle even when one is slipping.

      Regardless of the transmission your car has, if you want to slow down in ice or snow, your best bet is to use the brakes judiciously, even with ABS. And recognize that ABS will not save you from doing stupid things on snow. I recently saw videos of cars sliding and spinning down hills, with the wheels locked; and all of these cars were new enough that I’m sure they had ABS. These drivers would have been better off getting off the brakes and steering the car . . . or using the brakes intermittently so long as they were retaining steering control.

      • 0 avatar
        potatobreath

        DC Bruce, going down one gear in an auto (or manual) isn’t going to make you spin out unless you do it at a really inappropriate time. If you are concerned about spinning out on downshifts when the engine is at high RPM, then it would be smart to slow down first with the service brakes before creating a big difference between the engine speed and wheel speed by downshifting. I drive down steeper hills with overdrive off or tow/haul mode on.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Sort of a poor edit on my part. The winter mode in the Saab automatic starts the car off in 2nd gear.

        Regarding braking, however, I stand by my point that using the engine, instead of the service brakes, to slow the car down (or keep if from accelerating downhill) on slippery conditions is inferior to using the service brakes, especially those with ABS, for the simple reason that it is easier to control the amount of braking force being applied and keep the wheels from slipping. At best, with a manual transmission, if you start slipping, you can declutch.

        Engine braking is an appropriate driving technique only when the vehicle’s brakes are likely to be overheated if they are asked to carry the full load of slowing the vehicle (i.e. a heavy truck on a long downgrade).

      • 0 avatar
        MrIncognito

        Engine breaking in a FWD car is not a great idea in snow, but a in a RWD car it’s great. You can apply more breaking force to the rear tires, which allows the front tires to continue to steer the car. The only time this makes you spin out is if you do it while the car is the the middle of a turn, in which case you’re pretty much screwed if you’re going too fast in poor traction conditions in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        “Engine braking is an appropriate driving technique only when the vehicle’s brakes are likely to be overheated if they are asked to carry the full load of slowing the vehicle (i.e. a heavy truck on a long downgrade).”

        Absolute rubbish. I have used engine braking every single day I’ve driven for the last 48 years, manual and auto. So have you just by slowing down by removing your foot from the accelerator and “coasting”.

        Round these parts, we get real snow and ice, and when descending a steep curvy grade in a dicey situation, I always gear down. I use rev matching and then appropriate clutch slipping as the lower gear is engaging. That’s been on RWD, FWD, and AWD. My Subaru auto rev matches by itself on downshifts and the torque converter pillows the braking effect as it builds. Does a superb job. No, I don’t go from 5th to 1st in a panic on my manual car. You have to be smooth. The Subaru auto can start in second gear, as well, but AWD means it’s really, really optional even on the 3 days of sheet ice we’ve just had here.

        Never read such haughty and dogmatic views on this aspect of driving before, glad to say (except for Baruth and his anti-shuffle steering tirade which is all well and good in the 5% of cars with fast enough steering to allow his technique in normal driving) How do you descend a long downhill grade (in normal weather) which accelerates the car past the speed limit? You say ride the brakes. Me, I downshift smoothly and let the engine keep the speed down. Never had to replace a clutch or get an auto tranny rebuilt on the 6 long-term cars I’ve had in the last 37 years. Nor in the other 3 stinkers, for that matter.

        I still wore the pads to the rotors front and rear in only 40,000 miles in the current Subie, so I’m not afraid to use brakes when necessary.

        As for the general topic, I tend to prefer manuals, but anyone rowing a Subaru is exposing themselves to cruel and unusual punishment. I refused to buy such a primitive device, simply the worst in my experience.

        I don’t phone or text when piloting a car. I drive. Until the general population of sheep look up long enough to concentrate on the matter at hand, whether or not the transmission is manual or auto is unlikely to disturb their ovine tranquility and disregard for the real job they’re tasked with.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    I’ve always believed that automatics are a major contributor to the “stop and go” aspect of stop and go traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Could not agree more. Manual drivers, like me, will let a gap open (not a huge one) and then idle the car in gear up to the stopped car in front of me. If the timing is right you stay with the traffic and don’t use the clutch at all. Much more relaxing but then the autoboxer sometimes falls asleep and fails to pull off spoiling everything.

  • avatar
    thehips

    I don’t know… when I was younger and dumber I used to text and smoke in between shifts all the time when driving. I don’t think this is going to stop to many determined teens when they get the hang of it (and realize you can steer with your knees and shift with your elbows).

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      Yup same here but I wasn’t texting, just on the cell phone and smoking while shifting but I was in an Alfa Romeo Spider with the top down and the police officer who pulled me over asked me to pick, talk, smoke or drive … but not all three at the same time.

    • 0 avatar
      NDeezy415

      Yes! I was wondering when someone would mention steering with your knees. My big accomplishment in high school was rolling cigarettes while knee-steering my 5-speed mk1 jetta. Especially difficult given the lack of power steering.

      No need to worry about texting though, as I didn’t have a cell phone. Damn I’m getting old…

  • avatar
    boltar

    While nothing will stop a mature long-time driver from distraction if he/she doesn’t actively decide to avoid it, it seems like a great approach for the vast majority of younger drivers. While we’re busy automating and simplifying driving so as to require an absolute minimum of skill and attention, what did we think would happen? Free people’s minds up and they will look for something to keep themselves occupied. I always believed in automatics for my mom and a brother who seems quite taxed with safety concerns while driving. For myself I vastly prefer the engagement and focus I get driving a manual. If/when they become extinct (along with manual wind-up windows), I think it will be just another sign of the dumbing down of humanity.

  • avatar
    Carzzi

    I proffer a qualified take: “cars with a narrow/peaky powerband and a manual transmission require more attention to drive”.

    This disqualifies, for example, most modern 6 & 8 cylinder manuals such as Mustangs and BMW’s available stateside. Pop that baby in 1st or second for urban crawl, and any gear between 4th & 6th for interstate 35-55 mph crawls. They can be quite stall resistant, some V8′s not even requiring the clutch for any 1st gear crawl > 1-2 mph, just ride the brake like an auto.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Gearing can give you the same results. My Sidekick could crawl along quite happily in 1st gear at idle, and then accelerate away cleanly when traffic opened up. The fuel injection mapping was so well done it would even idle up surprisingly steep inclines, still with no need for intervention on my part. Made it livable in stop and go commutes, as long as I paid enough attention to avoid rushing up to the car in front of me and having to slam on the brakes. 5.10 gears in the pumpkins.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      For the ultimate in this effect, my first manual car was a ’70 Old’s Cutlass convertible with a Rocket 350 and a Hurst 3 speed on the floor. Could probably hit 100 in 2nd gear. What a fun car.

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    Not only would I agree that it should reduce texting and driving, but it also reduces drinking and driving, and anything else and driving as well as 39 years of driving them has proven with me. I prefer manuals, in the city, on the highway, and everywhere in between. My 15-year-old will be learning to shift for herself very soon.

    • 0 avatar
      A Caving Ape

      How do you think it reduces drinking and driving?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Good question. I recall 35 years ago demonstrating smooth clutchless shifting technique on my Karmann Ghia after an evening at the local beer joint — just for fun!

        I’m pretty sure I was over the legal limit, but fortunately, had only a mile to drive to get home.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    Save the Manuals!

    Also, please stop whining about rowing your own in city traffic. Every single person who says that owns an A/T.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Speaking as an unabashed, unashamed n00b I don’t understand that bias against manuals in the city and on the freeway. Once I got past the fear of stalling upon moving away from a light I had no issues.

      However, the other day I did have a scare during rush hour where I almost stalled because I was in too high a gear when the traffic in front of me came to a halt. I was watching and monitoring brake lights, but many around here hover on the brakes so their lights are constantly lit up, but they aren’t actually slowing. Talk about confusing.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        The car shouldn’t stall till your speed is very low, unless you force the engine into too low a gear – I did that once long ago when the driver in front of me waved me into too short a space to pass on a two-lane road. I red-lined the engine of my GLC hardcore in 2nd gear and let up on the accelerator too quickly. My head almost hit the windshield before I jammed down the clutch and the cabin filled with sickly sweet smell of incinerated clutch pads and grease.

        There are several morals to the above story that have nothing to do with transmission choice. :-)

  • avatar
    skor

    Young people don’t know how to operate them, or see a reason why they would need to learn. Old people don’t want them, they can remember when manual meant cheap. Except for a small number of sports vehicles, the manual will be as rare as an honest politician.

    • 0 avatar
      FrankTheCat

      I’m young and both know how to operate a manual (learned how to drive on a manual 1992 Honda Accord coupe with 250k on the original clutch and shifter bushings), and appreciate the manual transmission.

      I commute with my mom to save gas, so I often drive her car. when she traded her old 2007 Fit in for a new one, I pleaded with her to find one with a manual. sadly, there wasn’t one within 500 miles of us, and since she didn’t want to wait anymore, the god-awful hobbled CVT it was.

  • avatar
    Hank

    This is a solution I can get behind. Ditch the nanny-state and press a clutch pedal!

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      The nanny state is coming, whether we want it or not. Two recent Hollywood movies come to mind: “I, Robot,” and “Minority Report.” Both depict similar scenarios for traffic in mega-cities of the future. The technologies shown in those two movies are quite plausible, and we will likely see a version of them in our lifetimes.
      Since nobody wants to ask the question, “who the heck would want to live in a city of 10-15-20 million,” city planners/engineers/social scientists are going to have to find ways to pack 30 million people into a dozen sq miles and keep them all from killing each other – deliberately or otherwise.
      Since flying vehicles and teleportation are unlikely to come along any time soon, we are going to be facing more cities of 20+ million long before technology advances that far.
      Any casual observer can see where things are headed with the lawyers, safety-nazis, green zealots, etc. If some form of personal conveyance, other than a Flintstone-mobile or bicycle are to survive the next few decades, then they will have to take the human element out of the equation. As cars get smarter and safer, it’s we humans that are the weak link. Telemetrics, black boxes – just the tip of the iceberg. Our kids are quite comfortable with OnStar and all the ‘gee whiz’ gadgets, but us oldsters can only see the loss of privacy and personal freedom.
      Forget about automatic transmission, fine folks of TTAC: soon enough we will be fighting for our ‘right’ to drive our vehicle, period. Next time you’re at a busy intersection in a major city, ask yourself how much more traffic that intersection could handle if traffic in all directions was ‘feathered’ so that no vehicles had to stop – ever.
      Ironically, it is the ‘choices’ consumers demand today that are going to result in the removal of very many choices in the near future.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I’ve long believed that the “car of the future” will be a vehicle where you just sit down, push a button corresponding to your destination,then do something else until it gets you there.

        What always leaves me scratching my head is… if this is the desired evolution of transportation, why don’t more people just take the cab/bus and spare the car payment?

  • avatar
    alluster

    Three of the four rides in my driveway are manual. After driving a year and half to work on a 2.8 mile commute with 23 lights and two stop signs, not to mention bumper to bumper traffic between lights, this “row your own gears” fan can’t do it anymore. I don’t care if its less safe, my next car is an auto. In stamford, you can drive for 20 minutes, look back and still see your starting point!!

  • avatar
    analoca

    To those defending manual transmissions in the 21st century I would ask if their wives are still washing by hand or have already moved to the washing machine. As for eliminating distracted driving, one could argue that driving with the two hands tied to the steering wheel helps also avoid distracted driving…

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      a.) Delicates and hosiery
      b.) If it keeps the thumbs away from the phones, then I don’t see why not.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Maybe some people just enjoy driving a particular way. Maybe there really is no other reason. I find automatics uninvolved and boring to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      I’ve yet to find an automatic that can execute a full-throttle short shift acceleration. Get back to me when I can CONTROL that autobox.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      LOL – talk about prodding a hornet’s nest with a stick! It’s ironic that as automatics finally surpass manuals in terms of long term maintenance, fuel mileage, efficiency, etc., a vocal minority wants to turn back the clock, as it were.
      As was mentioned, this blog site is hardly typical of North American consumers. Most consumers can’t remember the make and model of what they drive! Believe me, when I was a car jockey at a major downtown hotel, I’d be lucky to get color and number of doors out of these ‘typical’ people.
      Since America pioneered the automatic 60 some odd years ago, and because fuel was cheaper than dirt here, automatics flourished. Nobody else much bothered, preferring to piggy-back American technology, or outright buying automatics from Detroit.
      Many people in Europe, South America and elsewhere base their transmission purchase choice based on a) habit, b) familiarity, c) horror stories from their parents who once had an automatic, d)up front cost (never mind that if you can’t drive a clutch properly, you could be spending $5-800 every couple years) and, e) the urban myth that standards are ‘better.’
      My first 2 new vehicles were sticks, but that was the 1980s when anemic, 4 cylinder engines absolutely wheezed with an automatic. (A dump truck passed me on a rural highway while I was in a rented 1979 Datsun 210!) Once, in my 1987 Shadow ES (with the turbo 2.2), a new New Yorker (yeah, the K-car based one!) passed me while I shifted down to 3rd. That was humiliating.
      Unless you’re Dale Earnhardt, you’re never going to be able to outshift a modern automatic.
      Times have, indeed, changed. There is absolutely nothing fun about a stick in the city. Nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Long term maintenance? OK, Toyota and Honda seem to be able to make slushboxes that will withstand the test of time (with some notable exceptions). Other makers, not so much.

        As far as outshifting them, most of the “modern automatics” in the reviews I’ve seen on this site leave a lot to be desired. Especially on low-end cars, where the manufacturers are gaming the shift points to maximize EPA numbers at the expense of drive-ability.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        Russycle -

        I agree that from a driver’s standpoint even the recent dual-clutch a/o massive-gear ratios automatics leave a lot to be desired. The best I have personally driven is Audi’s 8-spd traditional automatic.. that was the first A/T where I didn’t constantly feel the transmission countermanding my orders. Really pretty smooth, but I still would have rather been using a 5- or 6-spd manual with it.

        I do think that pretty soon there will be no *objective* advantage to manuals – we’ve lost fuel economy and launch speed as reasons, and we’re left with driving enjoyment.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Maybe. I still remember managing to answer a phone call whilst rolling a cigarette whilst changing gear back before talking on your cell phone whilst driving became illegal in the UK. I was steering using my knees…

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Already done! When the van crapped out and I had to get another low-price used vehicle for the lady, I demanded that we get a stick shift, then in 3 years when the youngest turns 16, it will be passed down to her, and that’s the car she will drive all the way through college (assuming it will last).

    End result, 2005 Ford Focus ST 5-speed. Low miles for its age, and should be reliable for a good while.

  • avatar
    rustyra24

    Until recently I drove manuals almost exclusively. The transmission in my current car took a dump and I drove around my fiance’s parents 86 Camry (auto). I noticed that I talked on the phone more because I did not have to shift. I just bought a stick again and I do not talk on the phone anymore. I think it does make a difference.

    I also turn off the radio and air to hear the car and see if it sounds normal. I do not think new drivers ever think of doing that.

  • avatar

    I love and only own cars with manuals but you can’t stop dumb people from doing dumb things.
    Still, if it helps to reduce distracted driving then by all means train your kids to drive a manual, it should be your parental duty IMHO,
    My kids will be trained to drive standard and I offer free lessons to anyone I know on how to row your own, the caveat being you supply the car, no use destroying my car for someone else’s benefit.
    By the way I never really understood the argument that driving a manual is too much work for city driving.
    Yes it can be a drag crawling in traffic, clutch in, clutch out etc but it’s not like you’re driving a 67 International Travel-all or something, deal with it.

  • avatar
    campocaceres

    This has absolutely been the case for me personally. My previous car was an auto (2 manual cars before that), and despite the sport suspension and the wonderful 3L I6, I would constantly find myself uninvolved and my mind understimulated. Eventually found myself occasionally distracted on my phone while driving, and I’ll shamefully admit frequently swaying around my lane and even curbed the car before on one occasion. Sigh, I had become “that guy”.

    Six months ago I traded it in for a manual-equipped car and the smart phone isn’t even a consideration any more. The constant use of all four limbs is a big part of it, but for me its more about the mental engagement. I suppose this switchover could only really works for those who develop the joy of driving, but I’m willing to bet there’s more of them out there than one might think. They just need the exposure. Even the right small cheap cars can be joyful.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Short answer, yes. BIG YES. Good luck texting and driving when you have to ‘row your own’ gears (and I know this from experience pre-texting and driving ban -in Minnesota-).

  • avatar
    cutchemist42

    Completely agree. I’m glad my dad taught me manual because I have such a greater appreciation for driving technique. It would take a lot for me to consider a car that was automatic and if I knew a car model had a manual model, I would not stop shopping until I found it.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    What about all the teenagers who are just too dumb to learn how to drive a manual? That would be discriminatory against them!!!

    Besides, I’m 36 and I’ve never owned an automatic. I remember being 16, driving my 5-speed Honda CRX, eating breakfast and shaving in the rearview mirror 80+ mph on a two-lane highway and sliding into the high school parking lot sideways to beat the 8am bell…I passed tractor-trailers on double yellow line two-lanes almost every single day and somehow didn’t kill myself of anyone else….

    Then again, if a trucker ran over that CRX he wouldn’t feel a thing..;.

  • avatar

    I remember how the manual transmission take was 10%. If it fell down to 6%, good! I switched to an automatic in 2006 and never looked back. If someone likes to yank the stick, he ought to love to regulate the mixture for optimum performance too.

    P.S. I learned to drive on a 3-ton truck that did not have synchros. Rev-match that.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Quite the contrary; I’m convinced if I had a manual at 16, I probably would have killed myself. Just because its harder to play with your radio, phone, etc, when you’ve got a stick, doesn’t mean kids won’t do it anyway.

    I’ve owned both automatics and manuals, and I definitely prefer manuals. However, the “I’ll never own an automatic!” contingent that sucks up all the air on every enthusiasts site has really become insufferable. This whole “Save the manuals!” discussion is tedious and predictable, because the vocal minority seems to never buy new vehicles*, yet feels entitled to badmouth anyone who buys an automatic**.

    * Only one of the five vehicles I’ve owned was purchased new, and, yes, it was a manual.

    **My current vehicle is an automatic. You’re welcome to buy me a new vehicle with a standard transmission; otherwise, eat me.

    • 0 avatar
      Beelzebubba

      I’m 36 and I’ve only had manuals for my 20 years of driving. My mom was a school bus driver and she drove a 4-speed freakin’ bus for most of the 80s. She insisted that my sister (3yrs older than me) and I both learn to drive on a manual, take our driving test with a manual and until we were 18 we could only own a manual-shift vehicle.

      Somehow my sister managed to get a 1985 Nissan 300ZX Turbo (5-speed manual) for her first vehicle…and my parents bought it for her. A few years later when I turned 16, I ended up with a 1986 Honda CRX HF and had to pay for it myself….and, no, who paid for the cars has no relevance to anything else I’m saying in this posting, I’m just a bitter SOB still!

      I owned several Civics after high school, all 5-speeds but it wasn’t because I was a ‘purist’ and neither are most dicks who say they are ‘purists’. A manual was at least $1000 cheaper, it got up to 10mpg better fuel economy than an automatic Civic AND if you drove the hell out of it, they could actually hustle! An automatic Civic from the early 90s couldn’t outrun a riding mower! Cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and much faster- every college boy’s wet dream…

      And my next vehicle will be an automatic and I’m looking forward to it! Even though I enjoy driving a manual and have loved all of my past cars, as I approach 40 and slog thru 70 miles of hellish gridlock daily, convenience and comfort trump “fun to drive” or being connected with the vehicle…once you start hearing and feeling knees joints pop and crack every time to press the clutch, all you want is to put it it ‘D’ and press the go pedal!

      I’m planning to buy a 2012 Mazda6 s Grand Touring in a few months. I’m looking forward to a sweet 272hp V6, 6-speed automatic and 0-60 faster than 95% of the manuals you can still buy!

  • avatar
    blau

    I’ve been known to steer with my knee and shift with my left hand while using my right hand to, uh, improve the day of the gal in the passenger seat. I’m pretty sure I’d be a safer driver if I had an automatic.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I honestly don’t know if it will cut distracted driving but I’m glad that manuals still can be purchased.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    To have safer drivers maybe we need to train everyone on a manual, and what it takes to stop..not only the mechanics of the car , but the human reaction. Too many people today seem to think a car will do anything for them.
    That said, how about removing the buttons from the steering wheel? Really, do we need so many buttons that they add extensions for them. These are cars, not a concert hall, and not an office.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Actually I like the radio volume button on the steering wheel of my soon to be mother-in-laws Torrent. At least I don’t have to take my eyes off the road or hands off the wheel to adjust radio volume.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      I agree everyone needs to learn how to drive a manual, if only to understand how gearing works, and RPMs etc. My wife still doesn’t really understand engine speed or shift points. Tailgating is worse than the distracted driving IMHO. I can’t believe the chains of cars I see at 80 MPH, a half car length apart. Madness.

      But don’t you dare take away my steering wheel buttons! I love that I can change the radio volume or station, make or answer a phone call without taking my hands from the wheel or looking down at the center stack. That’s a safety feature.

  • avatar
    orange

    The other part of this important equation is curved roads, even if its curvy just for the heck of it.

    Add varying radii curves while at it. So fat ass SUVs can smoothly slide out of my f’kin way.

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    I made it very clear to my son that if he wanted his license before 18, he had to learn on a manual (I had a Subie and a Porsche 944 at the time). He does appreciate the fact that unlike his buddies, he can drive a manual and prefers one. Let’s face it though, to many Americans a car is little more than an appliance and the idea that driving can be engaging doesn’t occur to them. An automatic is certainly much more friendly to multi-tasking. Also, a manual does take some skill to drive properly. Just about any moron can drive an automatic. I will admit if I had to drive in heavy traffic frequently (or towed things) I’d want one car to have an auto.

  • avatar
    SilverHawk

    With the take on manuals so small, this is really a lost cause. My newer car, and my classics are all manuals. One is even a 3-on-the-tree with O/D. I enjoy the involvement with the vehicle, and I really enjoy driving. For most, driving is simply a mundane task that helps us live our lives. It’s easy to see why so many choose not to think about it. Choice of tranny doesn’t matter if you have no interest in the drive. Your distracted even before you get behind the wheel.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Not this s*** again.

    Anyways, real men adjust their own spark and bring their cars to life with a hand crank.

  • avatar

    I was just thinking about this today, which I switched out of boring “manual mode” in my clutchless BMW. I was a better driver and less distracted when I drove a stick shift, no doubt. Both of my kids will learn to drive stick as well.
    Not to mention a girl driving a stick is awesome. At least it’s one shaft you can control…

  • avatar
    Les

    What we need to do is start the Rumor that Manuals lead to less texting-while-driving/less distracted driving in general, push it until it percolates up into the Insurance industry, watch insurance rates on manuals come down, creating incentive for more people to buy manuals.

    Hallelujah, more Manuals on the dealer Lots! ^_^

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    As an experienced driver one can find ways to do distracting things while driving a manual, it is, however, still easier in an automatic. There for it stands to reason that a learner driver take longer to learn bad habits with a manual.
    Automatics have their place but manuals are still better in just about every way.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    I’ll be 50 next month. I’ve never traded paint. I drive manuals.

    It’s not simply that I can’t be distracted because all my limbs are busy. I’m just always “into it” when I’m driving. Always.

    Pointing a slushbox appliance on a daily basis would take that Zen away eventually. I’m nowhere near ready to accept that fate.

  • avatar
    George B

    I never liked manual transmissions in the past. I started with antique Chevrolet and Ford non-synchronous 3 on the tree manuals with no power assist for the clutch. Those were horrible! Also drove manual economy cars with no low-end torque and stalled the engine frequently. Not fun! Then there were trucks where shifting gears is more like arm wrestling than driving. In all these cases the manual transmission was the cost-reduced economy option. Maybe if I had driven a car with both an excellent manual transmission and an engine with a wide power band, I’d have a different opinion, but if you started out on ordinary American cars, you too would welcome the dominance of the slushbox over poorly executed manual transmissions.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I learned to drive in dad’s 1960 Chevy Impala – it was a powerglide. When I was 17½, my first car was a $75 1952 Chevy – a stick. I learned to drive a manual in a friend’s dad’s car – a 1966 Chevy Bel-Air 250/stick!

    I’ve had many manual tranny-equipped cars and currently have our 2007 MX5 5 speed.

    On my old commute down I-75 through Cincinnati, a manual was a real pain sometimes, but that route isn’t fun on a good day. Now? My 100-mile R/T commute is actually better in so many ways, as I’m against the flow of traffic once I get on the highway, I leave earlier, so my route to the highway isn’t bad either. When I drive our MX5, I have no problems at all.

    I have always enjoyed rowing my own, but it’s hard eating my daily apple on the way home if I try to do so in traffic! Due to circumstances beyond my control, I don’t eat in the car anymore – both hands on the wheel at all times, at 9 and 3 o’clock – according to Mr. Baruth.

    Manual transmissions had better not go away, or I’ll be quite angry…

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      On occasion, I’ve had to speak on the phone while rowing gears and while it’s not a mindless thing, it can be done. I just don’t make it a habit to do it.

      FWIW, I witnessed this a few weeks ago in the downtown area near where I work: A young man, riding a bicycle, smoking a cigarette and what seemed like trying to read something on a cell phone. He was totally oblivious to the fact that he blew a red light and by the grace of God was not run over by oncoming traffic.

      Additionally, I’ve tried to get my kids to drive stick, but neither one seems interested. Hell, the one isn’t interested in getting her license. With both of them, I’ve tried to impress upon them the fact that they are piloting 2-1/2 tons of metal, and it can be deadly if mishandled. So far so good.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        “With both of them, I’ve tried to impress upon them the fact that they are piloting 2-1/2 tons of metal, and it can be deadly if mishandled. So far so good.”

        @geozinger: Ha! That’s certainly half the battle. When my son started driving, I bought a third vehicle – a 1983 Ranger XL. It was a 4 speed. He learned to drive in our ’90 Acclaim, but really wanted to drive a stick, so I would go pick him up at midnight from his job at McD’s not far away, and let him drive the truck home. This went on for a few weeks then he wanted to do the whole thing himself. Of course, the first time he went solo, I was relieved when I heard the garage door open and that he made it safe and sound!

        He did just fine and he prefers to row his own all the time. He drives a 2000 Eclipse GT. Never an issue.

        Yeah – our daughter – she tried driving our ’96 Ranger 5 spd. once, but never pursued it anymore. Too bad. I told he she didn’t know what she was missing.

        I also recall our son years ago maintaining women couldn’t drive a stick…wifey set that record straight real quick! She loves driving our MX5! She drove our Ranger like a trooper, too.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman: One of my little secrets: I taught my wife to drive stick. She promptly blew up the clutch in my Pinto, but by the time we got her the black Mercury Capri RS, she was the better driver. On any given piece of road, she can outrun me every time.

        Back when I was racing with my buddy, there were two reasons why he never asked me to drive: I was too big to fit in the car(s), and I’m just not that fast…

        Now, if my younger kid gets the job at the county library system, she’ll have to get her license. Luckily, the Cockroach of the Road© Cavalier is an autobox…

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        You guys are making me think of my “soon-to-be” wife. SHE TAUGHT ME to drive stick and I posed her this question once…

        “So after we’re married it will be time for me to pick up another vehicle. Do you care if I buy a Mustang, Camaro, FT86, 370Z or some other frivolous sports car?” The answer…

        “As long as you buy a manual trans and let me borrow it every once in a while.” :)

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    We’ve all been stuck behind the mandatory manual driver. Not the ‘enthusiast’ who thinks himself a pro and optimizes every shift while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, but the idiot who has a manual because back in 98 his parents thought saving 1 grand was a brilliant idea and the four banger Camcord with the bad clutch has stayed in the family since because no one wants to take a 5MT trade for crap.

    Green light… hunt around for first, slow jerky acceleration, then the car wallows and decelerates while the idiot searches for second, burst of speed, deceleration while he looks for third (in most cars it’s up and to the right of second), hits the brakes to slow down… still in third but the car has no power, doesn’t realize he needs to downshift and gives it the gas and you endure an agonizing acceleration back to the speed limit at 1000 rpm.

    Or he just rolls back into you on a hill because that often overlooked skill of hill starting without rolling back is lost on most idiot drivers.

    Most people who are in manual cars because they HAVE to never pick up on the skill set to drive them WELL, they just get by are and are more of a hazard than if they were blessed with a slushbox. Knowing this, most car manufacturers in the States put the most miserly, terrible manuals in their most base models (knowing only a handful of idiots will buy them) and exacerbate the situation.

    Since we need to drive in America, people who are too old, too dumb, too incapacitated, too inexperienced will always drive and any attempts to toughen up our driver education and enforcement will be met with ardent protest…

    It’s retarded out there, buckle up.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Thing is that even with the proliferation of smartphones accident rates haven’t gone up at all. Sure there’s the occasional accident that’s clearly caused by some idiot constantly texting but that’s a relative rarity. Manual transmissions are good but I definitely wasn’t any safer of a driver with a manual transmission when I was a teenager, it probably made me drive more aggressively than I would have in an automatic. I dunno, maybe it works better with teen girls but I get the feeling that a lot of teen boys would take the stick shift to mean that they’re racers or some such idiocy.

  • avatar
    darrinkaiser

    This is common sense. It isn’t about fanboy manual B.S. and anti-technology garbage. It is about keeping a young inexperienced driver’s two hands, two feet, and one brain busy. It’s also about the fear of embarrassment as they stall the car out in front of everyone cause they were in the wrong gear or didn’t manipulate the left pedal properly.

    My four year old’s first car will be a stick, I’ve been saying it for years before she was even born. To the point my wife is sick of it. Only thing is that I better buy it now, before there are no more options. I could probably tuck a Ford Fiesta away somewhere for 12 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      You don’t think there is any way that your child will believe that she is a better driver than her peers thanks to her ability to drive a stick and thus take more risks? That is what I did when I was a teenager after I’d nailed down the finer points of driving a stick.

      I feel like people correlate being a car enthusiast and knowing how to drive a stick with being a good, and thus safe, driver. I have more technical skills behind the wheel than my stick driving wife. She’s still a safer driver because she doesn’t see driving as “fun” or a place to get an adrenaline rush. Her idea of fun is scooting around in her 6MT MINI listening to music she likes. My idea of fun is seeing how fast I can take a turn in the MINI. Guess who has more run-ins with the law (though not much anymore since I’ve matured a good deal). I’m probably a safer driver in my 4Runner than my GTI because I don’t have the urge to push it. I don’t get a thrill banging it through all the gears.

      My point is that the distracted driving and safe driving comes down to the maturity of the driver. A manual transmission may make them a bit less distracted, but possibly overconfident when they are running late for school. The mature driver that knows the consequences of their actions won’t use their phone while driving or speed trying to make up a few minutes time when they are running late.

      Since I’m off on a tangent, I drove past an ex g/f’s house over the weekend (she’s the neighbor of a family friend). Her Maxima was all smashed up on the front quarter. She smashed up her Legacy when we were dating 11 years ago, smashed up her Camry when we were in college, and has apparently done a number on this one, too. Some people are simply bad drivers. Smart girl, but she must be blind. Just another reason I’m so thankful for my wife and her flawless driving record, haha.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    This whole discussion is getting a bit old. All of the reasons listed as to why manuals are better than automatics, in choose your metric, are all B.S. rationalizations that you use to justify your choices to the rest of the world/county, who really don’t care. Aren’t the Best & Brightest constantly telling people not to rationalize their decisions, if you want it buy it – no explanation necessary? An inattentive driver is an inattentive driver, whether they have to use both hands and both feet or one of each. The best safety feature a car can have during the winter is a driver with a feather foot, be it in an automatic or a manual. You can’t fix stupid.

    I bought a manual, yes, but I bought it because I wanted it. Not because somebody said it was safer or faster or anything else that you can rationalize a purchase with. I’ve always wanted to learn how to drive one for personal reasons. Period. Full stop

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      I liked this quote that toxicroach posted on TTAC about two years ago that I saved it.

      I don’t know if toxicroach still posts here, but apologies to you for re-posting this if your views have changed since you wrote it.

      Any automatic transmission lacks the joie de vivre of a manual. I don’t pick a manual because it gives better fuel economy, or is more reliable, or what have you. I drive a stick because a manual transmission demands that you bond with the car. You must feel its vibrations, listen to its roar, pay close attention to the gauges. Your entire body is involved in piloting it; your mind is engaged in watching the road more closely because you must make all kinds of subconscious decisions you don’t have to make in an automatic. In short, driving an automatic is a chore, driving a stick is a pleasure. Most automatic commuters view their daily drive as a boring chore; the manual driver views it as a time for a bit of communion with the car and road. People try to optimize the fun out of life by making everything easier. The manual is NOT the optimal choice, and it’s the very things that make it the irrational choice that make it superior.

      • 0 avatar
        hriehl1

        This sounds very similar to descriptions contrasting those who favor sailboats or powerboats.

        To powerboaters, it is about the boat getting you to the destination. To sailboaters, it is about “working the boat” during the journey.

        Hmmm, I sail and have always driven a stick in my personal car.

  • avatar
    hriehl1

    The low take-up rate for manuals is to some degree caused by by the manufacturers themselves. It reduces the range of units dealers must stock.

    I just bought a Mazda5 (microvan) with a 6-speed. That manual is only available in their very lowest trim model, so no sunroof, no Bluetooth, no heated seats/mirrors, no DVD, no leather, etc. Most buyers move up in the model range.

    The same was true of others I cross-shopped like the Focus, Elantra Touring, Jetta Sportwagon… if you want a stick, you get get the low-rent model.

    This clearly (artificially) reduces the take-up rate on manuals compared to what it may be if every buyer at every trim level had a choice.

    Also, while anecdotal, in 40 years of car ownership I have owned 2 automatic minivans (Plymouth and Honda) each of which needed two costly transmission repairs. The 6 or 7 manuals I’ve owned for my personal car, most accumulating more miles than the vans, have never needed a transmission repair and I have replaced one clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      The trouble with that comparison is that minivans, as a class, have poorer reliability than cars, so you have to take that into account. I seem to recall that the Odyssey had a particularly poorly designed transmission, and as for the Plymouth…enough said.

      • 0 avatar
        hriehl1

        An automatic is still an automatic whether in a minivan or sedan… and the minivans I owned were built on car platforms.

        My experience is admittedly anecdotal, but I’d guess aggregate data would show automatics have a much higher frequency of repair, and a much higher cost-per-repair.

        • 0 avatar
          voxleo

          indubitably true. There is just much less to go wrong in a MT, because all of the coordination of the shifting that is done by the person in a MT vehicle (timing hen to shift, disengaging the current gear and engaging the next which requires a smooth connection betweenm what you clutch foot is doing and where your arm is shifting and when) ALL those functions must be automated and synchronized mechanicanically , and smoothly. If one thing doesn’t time or line up right, the rest of it cannot adjust the way a person might, which makes for tolerances being a lot more unforgiving as well. A mistimed sensor , or a rock in the joint and suddendly you’re in reverse at 45 mph …bad things happem then.

          I couldn’t get my car in gear this week, just grinding when i wanted to go into first or reverse… thought I might need a new clutch or some transmission work costing several hundreds of $, but apparently it just needed some fluid to be topped off and now she works fine again for less than 10 bucks.

  • avatar
    SimRacingDan

    When my Aunt got her son’s manual acura that he didn’t need after he moved to NYC, I remember her comment being “Now I have to pay attention when I’m driving.”

    Someone mentioned that dealers find that people buy automatics if that’s all they have even if they want stick – I had a Mazda dealer try that on my when I was looking at the 6 back in 2006. They tried to convince me that the manumatic was really good. I felt insulted and didn’t go back.

    That said, I liked the cvt in the legacy. I’ve never tried a PDK but I imagine I’d like that, too. What I hate about automatics is the lag. I could live without the clutch as long as I can tell the car what gearing I wanted it to be using BEFORE I needed to use that gearing.

  • avatar
    darex

    Too many people don’t even understand how to properly operate their climate control systems (e.g. “The cabin won’t heat up even if the thermostat is set to full, if the fan is set to off”), so good luck with teaching people about the advantages of a manual.

    I have a hard time believing the penetration in the market is at 5.5% though. When I lived in Indianapolis, it seemed like it was over 50%, and even in Philadelphia where I live now, it’s got to be more like 10-15%, although I guess all the SUV’s skew the figure a lot.

    Bought a new car in September, and it’s a manual, as was the one before that and the one before that, and with luck, so will the next one be. I wholeheartedly agree that in a dense city such as mine, it keeps you engaged and thinking. It’s MORE appropriate in a dense urban setting, not less, as many would argue. In non-urban areas, who cares? You’ll be using your cruise control and/or be in 5th/6th gear the majority of the time, so it’s a silly argument.

    I’m living my contention that a manual is the best in an urban setting, and you don’t get too much more urban and congested than where I’m living now.

  • avatar
    moorewr

    “Ford Set to Offer Manual Transmission in Top-Spec Focus Titanium”

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/ford-set-to-offer-manual-transmission-in-top-spec-focus-titanium/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+caranddriver%2Fblog+%28Car+and+Driver%29

    ..and of course the ST will be manual-only.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Years ago I theorized that stick-shifts could make are roads easier, since you really cannot text and drive AND shift.

    But yes, in traffic we’d have a lot of little bumps, especially with todays amazingly big blind-spots.

  • avatar
    TW4

    A manual transmission stops distracted driving, but not b/c it stops people from engaging in other activities. I’ve never owned an automatic in 13 years of driving so shifting/clutching is completely second nature. I can, no, I have driven while talking on the phone, eating my fast food lunch, and manipulating the steering and gear change controls with my left hand so my right hand could scrawl notes with the pen I wedged between my fingers and my cell phone.

    I don’t crash and I don’t harm other people (knock on freakin’ wood) b/c driving manual puts you in tune with the car. You can sense what it is doing so the act of driving moves into your subconscious. Your subconscious can pilot the vehicle regardless of what your conscious mind is doing. Can’t tell you how many times my right hand has completed a shift, while I continue babbling as if my hand is still holding my cell phone next to my mouth. Subconscious often overrules the conscious distractions. Driving manual also forces you to maintain proper road tolerances b/c shifting takes time in the event of evasive maneuvers. Furthermore, no one wants to shift more than they have to in rush hour stop-and-go so tailgating and mad-dogging are probably less frequent amongst manual drivers. Fewer accidents result.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    I got the sure fired answer to distracted driving. Have the home and garden manufacturers take on the controls of an automobile. Really, you can’t do much of anything with a new chain saw, lawn mower, or weed wacker without having to hold three interlocks and disable a safety switch of some sort.

  • avatar
    matador

    If you learn on a manual, I think some of the experience will stay with you. I don’t think that it is important for safety that we all own a manual, but as a first car, a manual should be the only option. The first couple of years driving are when you learn the most. I think that only a manual can teach the lessons that are needed for life. When I first started driving, Wyoming winters in a 2-wheel drive F-150 with a 5-Speed taught me a lot.

  • avatar
    voxleo

    Automatics always make me seasick unless they’re Hondas.

    The joys of driving stick are many, with few drawbacks such as the dreaded stopp and go rush hour crap. Overall, you will save money in the intial cost as well as MAINTENANCE of the damn thing since there is so much less that can screw up and cost a fortune to fix with a manual tranny. It just won’t break as much because there is less TO break. BONUS: if I leave my lights on, I might actually be able to start it by myself if I am on an incline or strong enough to push it fast enough or have enough brawny pals to do that while I pop start it.

    Once you get on the highway, its pretty much the same thing, but you just feel like you have more control. Plus, when the apocalypse comes,and you are trying to scrounge any working vehicle from the deserted parking lots among the zombies, if the one you do find with the keys in it happens to be a stick shift, YOU WILL know how to drive it. Why anyone would bother to take a driving course to learn to drive and NOT learn to shift is beyond me. What on earth are you even paying for otherwise?

    Driving stick is just sexier. The fact that only a small portion of the market is interested in it, just shows you who the elite are. People with actual SKILLS drive stick. Anything else doesn’t even count as DRIVING any more than one DRIVES a bumper car.

    If you buy an automatic, you are a weenie. Sports cars aren’t sporty if they are AT.


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