Does Learning to Drive a Stick Shift Make for Better Drivers?


Driving a Stick Shift

In this world filled with technology and advanced instantaneous gratification we see people almost daily trying to perform the task of driving without the first thought of what they are actually doing. Instead of paying attention to the road or the rules of the road, they are busy on their cell phones (hopefully not texting, but you know some of them are), eating, drinking, looking for stations on the radio or just about anything but actually being in tune with the task at hand.

This may be why we have so many governmental regulations regarding the types of cars that can be bought, driven and sold here, to protect us from ourselves, but the reality is we simply need to be better drivers.

There was a time when you needed two hands and both fee to drive a car. This was the age of the actual stick shift (not that wimpy paddle shifter on the steering wheel). Driving a stick shift, especially in a day an age when there was not power steering required a lot of careful maneuvering and practice. When you need a left foot for the clutch pedal and the right hand for the shifter (whether it’s on the column or on the floor) you have to pay close attention to what is going on.

When you have to use two fee and two hands to do the job at hand you don’t have time to eat, drink, smoke, or (God forbid) be on your cell phone.

The other benefit that having an actual stick shift gave us was the ability to be more connected with the vehicle and by association more connected to the task of driving. When you have to drive a stick shift you have to give the car constant attention because you need to be in the right gear for the speed you are travelling until you are on a highway in the highest gear and cruising along. City driving requires you to be able to properly downshift and work your way through the gears properly to drive smoothly along the city streets. Once again, you won’t have time to text your friends when you drive a stick shift and social media will have to wait until you arrive at your destination which is probably the best thing for your driving experience and safety overall.

Even though there is no actual proof that driving a stick shift makes better drivers it seems fairly obvious that having a stick shift will make it easier for someone to pay attention to the road ahead and the other drivers around them. Unfortunately, as a society we are not heading toward the stick shifts, but away from them in a huge way.

Soon there will be cars that actually drive themselves (I guess with one of those you could text and check social media while “driving”) but until that time comes drivers do need to remember the task they are trying to perform in a safe manner and leave the distractions behind.

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