Shifting Gears – Some Teens Prefer to Drive a Stick Shift
By Shelby Fix, Car Coach 2.0™
Originally printed in “The Buffalo News”
Six percent of the cars sold today have a manual transmission. I believe most teenagers should know how to drive a stick shift because there’s more to it than being cool. It’s a different way of driving that requires the driver to pay more attention to driving and less to other distractions. This may make driving a manual transmission safer than an automatic.
Sadly, driver education doesn’t teach new drivers how to shift gears; students barely learn how to pump gas. They usually teach the basics of driving and how to pass the dreaded driving test.
As a driving enthusiast, it makes me feel that I have more control of the car when driving with a manual transmission. I searched for local high school students who prefer to shift gears.
Buffalo Seminary senior Julia Papernik drives a Mini Cooper with a manual transmission.
“I love driving manual, because I feel like I have more control over my car and my speed. I always know how fast I am going just by knowing what gear I am in. I think that for me, being a young driver, a stick shift makes me more of an alert and active driver in safety,” Julia said. “I have to pay attention to not only driving, but also to what’s going on around me with other cars. I can’t have other distractions because it’s impossible to steer, switch gears and talk on a phone or text, or even change the radio station. It makes me more of a responsible and safe driver.”
There are mixed opinions from teens to whether it’s safer to drive an automatic or manual transmission.
Rich Hilliker, a senior at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, says, “There is no right answer. It depends on the driver and how comfortable they are with a manual transmission. The average driver would probably think that automatic transmission is safer.”
Kelsey Shea, a senior at Buffalo Seminary, has a different viewpoint. “[A manual transmission] is definitely safer because it’s basically impossible to text or eat while driving, both of which can be big distractions.”
Julia adds, “It’s tricky to learn, but once you understand it and can drive manual, you don’t even think about it anymore.”
Sebastian Dryjski, a Canisius High School graduate and student of Loyola College in Chicago, says, “I don’t think manual is safer when you’re first learning how to drive manual. After you know how to drive manual, it is just as safe as automatic, in my opinion.”
Do parents still teach their teens how to drive a manual transmission?
Sam Benatovich, a Nichols High School graduate and current Tufts University student, said, “I learned to drive a manual transmission from my dad and my brother. Both of my parents were supportive of it.”