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Can a Stick Shift Solve the Distracted Driving Problem? Research Shows Manual Transmissions Decrease Accidents

gear shift of dodge truck

Society has become so dependant on technology that it has actually caused people to become worse drivers. How frustrating is it when the driver in front of you is going 20 in a 45? They weave in and out over the yellow line, slow you down, make your blood boil, and induce a road rage like none other. And you know good and well what they are doing because odds are that you are doing it too or have been guilty of it. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of accidents has risen since 2000. But cars and trucks of today are equipped with safety features that 10 or 20 years ago seemed like science fiction. From Bluetooth and voice activation to back-up cameras and lane assist, vehicles that are designed to be safer, in essence, are crippling people and causing “driver atrophy.”

When we drive our senses should be heightened. But from texting to changing the playlist on our phones, more and more drivers are losing focus because of too many distractions and the endorphins released when we use our phones.

But a manual gear shift could easily solve the problem. In a study on boys with ADHD and driving, researchers found that manual transmissions resulted in safe, more attentive driving because switching gears leaves no room for distractions. 

However, only 4 percent of cars on the road today are equipped with a manual transmission. Sadly, there is an entire generation of drivers who will never get to experience what it’s like to drive a car or a truck with a clutch. 

There are other benefits of driving a vehicle with a manual transmission besides reducing distractions. With automatic cars, if the battery is dead, you are basically SOL until someone arrives with a set of jumper cables. But with a stick shift, as long as the charging system is in good shape, you can get the truck or car started by rolling the car while pushing in the clutch. Once you get going just a little bit, quickly let the clutch out and turn the key, and you are back in business. 

A vehicle with a stick shift also provides better fuel efficiency compared to automatics because a manual transmission weighs less, therefore it doesn’t use as much fuel. 

For those of you who don’t know what it is like, driving a stick shift is a total body experience requiring the use of arms, legs, feet, and hands all simultaneously, making it almost impossible to text and drive or even eat for that matter. 

My first car was a stick shift. 16-year-old me learned to drive a used 1996 green Mustang convertible with a beige ragtop, and she was beautiful. God rest her soul.

I spent the better part of my youth driving that car. It hauled me back and forth to high school every day. Friday nights were spent with my best friend riding around town with the top down, singing along to a mixtape of the Dixie Chicks. And that same car hauled me back home from college every weekend. 

Some of the best times my husband and I had when we first started dating were in that car. He loved it too as he tried to impress me with his driving skills which included donuts in abandoned parking lots to squalling tires at red lights, something that can only be achieved properly with a manual gear shift. 

Despite showing her age, at that time she still had some get up and go in her. And to this day, nothing can mimic the feeling of stomping on the gas pedal and hearing the engine rev up as I anticipated when to shift gears.

I cried the day I sold that Mustang. I felt as if I was selling my memories for parts. I don’t have many regrets in life, but selling that car is one of them. Driving a stick shift is a sensory experience like none other- when you have the ability to control a machine simply by feeling and listening.  



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Comments

David Sharp

I’ve been driving a semi truck for about 40years, up until they came out with automatic, when I first started to learn how to drive my instructor said come on Dave I want to show you something, he took me to a truck and we climbed in, to my surprise there were two shifting levers in it, a five speed trans with a 2 speed rear end, he took me for a drive, man he could drive that thing. Then he stop the truck and said she’s all your and hoped out and left. Boy l had a time trying to learn how to drive that thing, those were the days

Dominic

I don’t think on a bump start you turn on the ignition after you depress the clutch or how would you actually have the fuel pump primed?

Stick shift will never die because most of the same cars are produced for global markets are an available source of conversion parts I have imported many transmissions/ecu’s/body controllers you’ll never appreciate how good a Range Rover is with a stick shift 😋

Rodney Weigel

Moss driving a stick shift

Nicolas Duchnowski

Im 21 ive been driving manual since i was 10 i got my license at 16 never been in a accident.

Nick Andreson

My first experience with a manual transmission was on a 1957 Allis-Chalmers Model G tractor. It wasn’t shift on the fly, that came a few years later in the form of a 1967 Ford F-350. Personally I’m disappointed in the fact that manual transmissions have become close to nonexistent. The last 2 vehicles I’ve bought have been manuals and if it means that I have to fix up and drive beaters for the rest of my days so be it. Manual transmissions are a way of life for me.

Sharon

My dad taught me to drive a stick shift when I was 16 on an old ford pickup with 3-speed on the tree. I have a 2010 Camaro SS 6 speed manual transmission, 6.2 liter. Love it, nothing like driving her! And I’m a great grandmother!

Mat

The mileage difference was never due to the weight, but instead the inefficiencies of the connection and gears in an automatic vs. a manual. I also have managed to drive a manual with a mug of tea in my right hand, changing music on my phone with my left hand, steering with my left knee while clutching with the tip of my toe, so the thing about distractions isn’t terribly valid. Also 95% of the time you’re just cruising in 5th (or 6th in your Mustang).

Oh, and to the person who says she hit the clutch instead of the brake, I have no clue how you could be so mixed up to do that… The clutch is way further to the left, as well as a lot higher; you’d have to purposefully pull your leg way back and across to push it in, unless as other people said and you’re driving left foot braking. Race car drivers do that, and it’s cool and all, but if you mixed up the brake and clutch I’d guess you aren’t a race car driver, and shouldn’t pretend like you’re one. The crash was entirely the fault of the nut behind the wheel.

Amber Woods

Love driving my standards…..from everything from a tiny car to semi.!

Eddie

I have a 2000 Camero with a 5 speed stick shift and an 08 Wrangler with a 6 speed stick shift. The best vehiclee for driver control in the winter here in Western Pennsylvania!

I smell BS

Biggest pile of wasted reading material ever. Throw the whole article away.

Joey

I’m 31 with my first manual car, an 04 Honda civic, sometimes in traffic I find it annoying but overall I can appreciate the things a manual tranny brings to the table, great article btw

Carter Fraser

Manuels are the best thing going but there are to many stupid people on this planet who won’t learn or just can’t learn or just lazy it would help the accedent situation alottt but at the end of the day you can still use your phone while driving a Manuel it’s easy and I’ve done it more then lots

Chuck

I drive a 10 speed 18 wheel eff r and I have an 84 4 speed truck the only way to drive is with a manual. And the whole eating while driving thing yeah that’s bogus I do it all the time and still shift my gears.

Nasch

@hannah, I believe u are lying, or just stupid. The clutch is on the far left and more pressure on it compare to the brake, there is no way u can mistake it for brake . And if you are telling the truth, u should not be driving an automatic either, seems like you are endangering others being on the road, I’m guessing you drive an automatic with both legs.

Hally

@Jonny
you are or you’re
If you say " Hannah your retarded," then you need to finish the sentence. For instance “Hannah, your retarded troll doesn’t know grammar.” And don’t get me started on the word “retarded.” But it is a great descriptive word for Jonny’s maturity level: something must have suppressed his ability to grow up.

Jonny

Hannah your retarded

Danny

Once driving a standard is second nature you certainly are restrained by it. I’ve done some pretty wild shit behind the wheel of a 6 speed 400+hp sports car 🤷🏼‍♂️

Dave

It used to be true that A vehicle with a stick shift also provides better fuel efficiency compared to automatics. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Automatics are as or more efficient than your standard transmissions nowadays.

Hannah

It’s great until you try to break and instead push the clutch….I thought my breaks had gone out for a second and then I ended up rear ending someone.

Troy

I made sure my son learned to drive stick and my step daughter will learn to drive stick. My son actually took and passed his driving TEST in a manual car driving in So Cal traffic. He works as a auto tech currently and his ability to drive a manual has opened up a lot of doors for him early on since often times he is the only one available to move cars with a manual trans.