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While the majority of vehicles on the road today are automatic, there are many benefits to learning how to drive stick shift. Manual transmission vehicles don’t have to be for experienced drivers only. Even if your teen doesn’t primarily drive a manual transmission vehicle, it can make sense to teach them this valuable skill.
This blog post will make the case for manual driving. After you’ve mastered the basics of driving an automatic vehicle, it may make sense to move on to this next-level driving experience.
5 Advantages of Learning How To Drive Stick Shift
Manual Transmission Driving Is A Different Skill
Most cars and trucks on the market today are automatic transmission vehicles. The EPA’s statistics record sales of manual vehicles reaching a peak in the 1980s at around 30 percent, falling since then to under five percent of the total market. Automatic transmissions now make up the vast majority of cars and trucks for sale even though manual vehicle models are still available.
Driving a manual is a bit more involved than driving an automatic, requiring a different skillset and experience. Keep reading to learn why you should consider adding manual driving to your driving skill toolkit.
1. The “Manual Mindset” Has Drivers Paying More Attention
As a manual driver, you’ll learn to pay more attention to road conditions, vehicle speeds, and the road grade. This carries over well into automatic driving and might make you a better driver. The fact of the matter is, more is involved with driving a manual transmission.
CarTalk notes that much more is involved in driving a manual transmission than an automatic. This might leave you with less of a feeling that you can also send text messages, watch a screen, or try using an app at the same time.
2. Classic and High-End Vehicles Need Manual Driving Skills
It’s a nice skill to have with driving classic cars, towing heavy loads, or driving high-end vehicles. You never know when you may need to know this skill (and few people do). Luxury cars are often available as manual transmission vehicles because manuals give drivers a chance to really “experience the road.”
3. Be Able to Drive Just About Anything
Be able to drive just about anything. Even if few cars in the US are manual transmissions anymore, there are still stick shift vehicles on the road, after all. Drivers who know how to maneuver stick shift vehicles are able to drive the vast majority of cars, trucks, and high-end vehicles around the world. How cool is that?
And according to Edmonds.com, as much as 80 percent of the vehicles sold in European and Asian countries have manual transmissions. So manual drivers are prepared for driving wherever they go. They’re ready to drive a rental car in other parts of the world, so wherever their travels take them, they can include a road trip.
4. Develop a Greater Understanding of How Cars Work
Cars have a lot of moving parts, gears, and electronics. You can learn how cars work by driving a stick shift, since you’re essentially controlling your vehicle’s shifting manually (that’s why it’s called a manual!) instead of relying on your car to do this for you. Driving stick gives you a chance to experience this first hand and understand why automatic transmissions were developed, too.
5. Have a Skill That’s Going Away
Few people can drive manual vehicles. U.S. News and World Report says as few as 18 percent of Americans can actually drive a manual transmission vehicle, so your new driver can join the just under one-fifth of American drivers who have what it takes to drive stick.
Car and Driver began a campaign to #savethemanuals back in 2010, but manual transmission driving skills could still be described as a lost art.
Ready to Drive Stick? Be Safe and Smart
If you’re thinking of learning to drive stick shift, you’ll need to have an experienced manual driver provide you with lessons, since there’s a lot more involved in driving these vehicles. This isn’t a vehicle type you start out with as your very first. So should your teen drive one? After learning to comfortably drive automatic vehicles. You’ll need to keep in mind that driving a stick shift vehicle can be somewhat riskier than an automatic, so be safe about it.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) wants teens learning manual vehicles to do so safely. Kara Macek, Senior Director of Communications and Programs at GHSA, says drivers should be cautious about learning driving basics on manual vehicles.
“The biggest challenge for a new driver trying to learn manual transmission is that it’s more complicated than learning automatic, which flies in contrast to the typical educational model where you start with basic skills and then advance,” Macek noted. She added that brand-new drivers may be tempted to start on a stick vehicle, but are probably better off considering manual driving to be something to graduate into.
And with the cool options available to stick shift drivers, there’s definitely some great motivation to learn.