Death to the “stick shift”?
Driver distraction is one of the major causes of vehicle accidents. According to a 2001 national survey conducted by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), roughly 25% of all fatal automobile accidents are caused by driver inattention. Although this research didnt examine the role of the manual transmission, its potential risks are patently obvious. Operating a manual transmission is an inherently difficult and dangerous procedure…
Bob better call all those people in Europe who drive manuals in preference to automatics – their accident rates will drop overnight!
Seriously, driving a manual transmission is more about habituation than anything else. The more practice you put in, the more “automatic” the co-ordination becomes.
Strip away the human vs. mechanical rationale and Zen posturing and all that remains is simple, willful resistance to change and progress.
Bob seems happy with his automatic transmission, a basic sort of design that originated in it’s current form in the early 50s. But, preselector transmissions were a feature of cars long before then, and even the Model-T had an epicyclic preselector gearbox.
Though admirably sophisticated, the combined manual – automatic transmission is a technological dead-end. By the middle of the last century, many American automobiles used variations of the semi-automatic transmission. None survived the development of the automatic transmission, for four good reasons: safety, reliability, driving pleasure and, above all, common sense.
If the manual transmission is a technological dead-end, someone better tell all those Honda S2000 and Mazda MX-5 drivers (cars that don’t, in Australia, come with anything other than manuals). Bob had also better tell Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, BMW and more than their expensive clutch-less manuals have been superseded by the automatic.
To say nothing of continuously variable transmissions like those originally used by DAF and perfected by Honda.
I drive manuals cars for preference, because with the amount of power than my preferred size of car puts out (I like small-ish cars), an automatic transmission is a unnecessary drain on the already meagre power that is available. I’ve driven many a large, powerful, automatic car. Not many have had automatics that are what you’d call sophisticated but a few were above average. All of them left me pretty non-plussed. Give me the feel of a good manual gearbox any day of the week.