Manual shifting used to be much more common in vehicles. Ask your parents and chances are they learned how to drive a stick shift since, at one time, manual transmissions made up 31% of new car sales. That number decreased as gas prices fell and transmission technology improved. But now, Ford’s and Chevrolet’s lineup includes more manual vehicle production, including subcompact, entry-level cars marketed to young adults. GM even held a Facebook contest called “Stay Clutch,” targeting young drivers by offering a chance to win stick-shift driving lessons and a trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Kansas City this month.
Auto companies are looking at how bringing back stick shifts can help teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel. Not only are manual transmissions cheaper to manufacture, purchase, drive and insure, they also have the added benefit of theoretically making it very difficult not to concentrate on driving. In fact, a study by University of Virginia Health System in 2006 reported male teen driver participants saying they are more attentive driving in manual transmission mode.
Driving enthusiasts have always defended stick-shifts as the ultimate way to experience driving. Safety experts may one day also defend it as the best way to decrease distracted driving.
From Detroit Free Press.