Ask The Best And Brightest: Mandatory Manual Training?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

With the autoblogosphere abuzz over Peter Cheney’s “unintended acceleration event,” Jill McIntosh has made a fascinating connection between one auto-journo’s son’s voyage of manual transmission discovery, and a former Ontario Attorney General’s killing of a cyclist back in September. Linking to a Toronto Star report on the trial of Michael Bryant, who killed cyclist Darcy Allan Shephard, McIntosh notes a strange similarity between that fatal incident and Cheney Junior’s garage door tango:

According to a statement read in court, reprinted in the Toronto Star today: Bryant hits the brakes. His vehicle stalls. Bryant tries to start his car, but it stalls again, lurching forward … Bryant tries to start the car again. He’s concentrating on the Saab’s sensitive clutch with his head down. He succeeds at restarting the engine and the Saab accelerates into Sheppard, who lands on the hood.

Obviously, two incidents do not a crisis make, but this is hardly the only evidence suggesting that manual gear-swapping is fast becoming a lost art. But do we really want to further stigmatize manual transmissions by mandating special licenses for manual-equipped cars, as McIntosh suggests?

Making clutches mandatory would not only prevent these situations, but it would also cut down on distracted driving, and generally make for better drivers… but realistically, we all know that will never happen. So, what about mandating that all driver’s tests be taken on a manual-equipped vehicle? Or, for the contrarians out here, what about banning manuals altogether? Sadly this option almost seems the most likely response, given how little demand there is for new cars with manual transmissions. Or is this just a problem for Canadian drivers?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Japanese Buick Japanese Buick on May 28, 2010

    @tedward, curious question from someone who's never driven a DSG: do they creep forward in drive, like tc autos? Also regarding your point about low speed, that's too bad because it seems to me the biggest enthusiast use case for the DSG is that in stop and roll traffic you can choose to let it do the work, and do the work yourself when it's fun. However to reinforce your point if you read the Car and Driver long term test of a Jetta TDI with DSG, they complained about the same thing, this is their description, from From a stop, the DSG automatically engages a clutch when the driver toes the throttle. But the engagement is slow enough to allow the engine to rev up, and once the clutch does engage, the car lurches forward. Often the lurches were severe enough to break the traction of the front tires, which then summons the traction control into action, which, in turn, shuts down the power. [...]some of the blame must attach to the lag of the TDI’s 2.0-liter turbo-diesel. At best, it’s an annoyance, but editor-at-large John Phillips did experience the car’s complete refusal to move when the Jetta acted as though it had slipped itself into neutral. “Turning against oncoming traffic, the Jetta refused to move. Full throttle and zero movement; happened twice..."

  • George B George B on May 28, 2010

    My driver's ed class included a segment where they let us drive a car with a manual around a huge parking lot and let us figure out the basics on our own. That was a fun part of the course! The problem with manuals is the clutch engagement varies significantly. Put me in an old truck with lots of engine noise and vibration plus boatloads of torque and a forgiving clutch and I'm ready to drive in traffic. Put me in a car with a clutch that engages abruptly and a quiet engine without much low end torque and I'll probably stall the engine. Some manuals require more practice than others.

  • Jerry Haan I have these same lights, and the light output, color, and coverage is amazing!Be aware, these lights interfere with AM and FM radio reception with the stereoreceiver I have in my garage. When the lights are on, I all the AM stations havelots of static, and there are only a couple of FM stations that are clear. When Iturn the lights off, all the radio stations work fine. I have tried magnetic cores on the power cords of the lights, that did not makeany change. The next thing I am going to try is mounting an antenna in my atticto get them away from the lights. I contacted the company for support, they never responded.
  • Lou_BC Are Hot Wheels cars made in China?
  • DS No for 2 reasons. 1-Every new car pipelines data back to the manufacturer; I don't like it with domestic, Japanese and Euro companies and won't put up with it going to Chinese companies that are part financed by their government. 2-People have already mentioned Vinfast, but there's also the case of Hyundai. Their cars were absolutely miserable for years before they learned enough about the US market
  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?