Youths need to learn to drive manual

Interesting, Others | July 16th, 2015 by 10
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It seems that almost every other week, there’s a story about a car theft, only to have the thief stall and run away because they …

It seems that almost every other week, there’s a story about a car theft, only to have the thief stall and run away because they didn’t know how to drive a manual transmission. This happens so hilariously frequently that I feel as if car thieves should open up a school for stick shift driving to prevent themselves from getting busted. But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing to take away from all of this is just how few people know how to drive a stick.

Manuals are dying, we know this. Every journalistic website has beaten this topic to death. The plain and simple fact is that automakers are killing the manual because customers don’t want them. Why don’t they want them? Well, it’s most likely because the majority of the car driving population does not know how to drive one. And, I honestly believe that if someone doesn’t at least know how to drive a manual transmission, they should not have a driver’s license.

bmw m4 manual transmission 05 750x500

Now, I’m not saying everyone must have a manual. Automatic transmissions are great for certain things, and I’m an advocate of the automatic for the daily grind, as riding the clutch all day in stop-and-go traffic is hateful. So owning an automatic isn’t the issue. The issue is with people who only know how to drive an automatic. It’s making them worse drivers.

Understanding how a transmission works, how it shifts through gears to keep the power to the wheels, is essential to understanding how a car works. And if you know how a car works, fundamentally, you have more respect for it and drive it with more care and attention. Nowadays, for most people, especially youths, driving is the last thing they’re paying attention to while behind the wheel. It’s mostly texting, Snapchatting and taking selfies. But that wouldn’t be possible if there was a gear lever in their hand that needed to be shifted around.

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The need for responsible driving is gone in today’s young drivers, because they can just slap the lever into D and mindlessly be on their way, listening to Justin Bieber, or whatever they listen to. It’s madness that that level of irresponsibility is allowed while behind the wheel, where lives can be lost if someone isn’t careful enough. And it’s all because when young people are learning to drive, they never learn to drive stick, so the need to respect the vehicle’s mechanics isn’t nearly as present.

I’m not saying that everyone needs to drive a manual or else they don’t respect a car, but they at least need to know how. I’ve been saying for years now that the driving test needs to be revamped completely. One of my revisions would be that every student driver must learn on a manual. Fleets of old beat up Honda Accord manuals should be at every testing facility for teenagers to learn on. This way, they can respect what an automatic does if they choose to drive one after, that it isn’t just a perpetual motion machine that just goes onward when it’s in Drive. And, it’s quite possible that most teens would actually enjoy driving a manual transmission more, and choose to buy a car fitted with one. This would increase manual transmission demand, therefor forcing automakers to give us more, on top of making people better drivers. Win, win.

I don’t know if learning to drive stick would actually help our teens these days, who more respect their smartphone than their two-ton vehicle, which can become a death machine if handled improperly. But it would definitely be a start. The only downside is that more people would have the ability to steal your car.

10 responses to “Youths need to learn to drive manual”

  1. 2sfhim says:

    One interesting thing in France: people mostly learn to drive manual, because if you learn to drive automatic, then you only have the right to drive an automatic. Still, it won’t really save manuals, because it doesn’t mean that French people like manuals and buy cars with manual transmissions later.

    • Tom says:

      Same in Germany, but still I guess that the younger people are driving more manual because of the simple fact, that it is cheaper and of course not all automatics are as good as the ZF one.
      As I am in the US at the moment its so crazy that people of my age and younger (I am 25) dont even know how to drive manual, I can only laugh about them, sorry. But of course it is also the fault of the system or the government in general. I think it should be mandatory to learn driving in a manual car, you also named various reasons. Further it should be mandatory do take driving leassons, people are so poor drivers here and that manual lack is just one of the reasons why… Also NHTSA should taking more care of changing the mindset and the skill of the drivers (and sue them for smartphone using etc.) than blaming manufacturers for their (safer than ever) vehicles.

  2. lekkousa says:

    Hallelujah Brother!
    I’ve been saying the same thing, that if I were to have my own country, slushboxes would be banned!
    Like you, if you can drive a manual you have to be involved with your vehicle, it is not a spectator sport.

  3. Shawn Sepehry says:

    I really like the points you are making in regards to respecting the vehicle and it’s mechanics. You’re dead-right on that because an automatic is so simple, new drivers find that they can fiddle with their phones and other distractions inside the vehicle rather than pay close attention to everything happening inside and outside the car.

    “Why don’t they want them? Well, it’s most likely because the majority of the car driving population does not know how to drive one.” This is the part I don’t agree with. When automatics first came about, everyone knew how to drive manual and they chose automatics because of the convenience. And then the tides began to turn to where it is now. That’s of course generally speaking and no specific to certain markets.

  4. Shane says:

    I disagree. I can drive manual very well, but we are moving towards all electrics which won’t even have transmissions. I wouldn’t teach my kids to learn how to use a cassette player or can yams, so I don’t think there is a reason to teach them to drive manuals when soon we won’t even have engines. – BMW M135I

  5. Griffin says:

    I’m learning how to drive my dads M235i manual right now, lol!

  6. dslindc says:

    “And, I honestly believe that if someone doesn’t at least know how to drive a manual transmission, they should not have a driver’s license.”

    Truer words were never spoken! 👏👏👏

    • Will Davis says:

      dumber words were never spoken, you mean. I have an auto only license and I drive just fine. Just bloody fine. If something happens to the world and the only cars going forward are manuals (unlikely with transmission-free cars of the future coming along) then I’ll take a quick conversion course, but until then I don’t see the point in learning a redundant technology.

  7. steven75 says:

    Strongly disagree, even as a manual transmission enthusiast.

    This is like saying you shouldn’t be allowed to use a computer without first installing the OS yourself. Preposterous.

  8. Will Davis says:

    I don’t see the point in learning to drive manual at this stage, because I know the next generation of cars are electric – battery or hydrogen powered – and therefore single-speed vehicles, as the need to have multiple gears is eliminated. Why hone a skill I’m never going to use? To gain respect for the car? I don’t respect internal combustion. I hate it. After driving electric, going back to a gas car feels like you’re operating some clunky, smog belching mechanical dinosaur that shudders and vibrates. It’s like stepping back in time, despite the fact electrics actually came first all those years ago.

    I respect forward thinking minds like Elon Musk who are trying to propel transportation into the next era. An era where the very concept of using a stick to pick a gear is laughable and considered an archaically inefficient waste of physical energy.

    I also know traffic is just going to get worse, so manual drivers can enjoy progressively more ‘stop and go’ traffic as the years go by, whilst the auto drivers can enjoy no fuss no muss. Next gen cars that have autopilot cruise control to follow the gap to the vehicle in front in queues don’t work with traditional manuals. Queueing ain’t driving; it’s frustrating. The point is, the future is in self-driving cars, it’s the direction things are going, and as manuals cannot by their very nature be ‘self driving’, manuals will rot and fade away over the next few decades. Like it or not.

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