In the spirit of “dead week,” I have chosen to write about a lighter topic: Standard transmissions.
Increasingly, more and more vehicles are sold with automatic transmissions each year. So much so that when I went to a car dealership in search of a vehicle with a 5-speed, the dealer looked at me in utter disbelief. Most customers don’t ask for a standard: They settle for it. I personally have had experience with this. When car shopping three years ago I wanted an automatic and left with a manual due to the sheer fact it was considerably cheaper.
Though I wasn’t thrilled with my purchase, I was excited to finally own a decent car and forego the crappy one my parents had let me drive. Despite my new vehicle being a manual, I was confident in my purchase as I could drive a standard like a pro.
Looking back, I know I made the right choice. I have come to appreciate the increased control I have driving a vehicle with a stick, though my friends and roommates seldom agree. Over the past few years I have been asked by friends to lend my car for various reasons. Sadly, though only a handful of them have actually had to ability to drive away. How is it that such a large portion of our population has yet to learn such a basic and important life skill?
Being able to drive a standard is important for several reasons. For example, a group of friends are out at a party, and as they are responsible alcohol consumers, they select a designated driver before the fun begins. It’s time to leave, their designated driver loads the group in the car and they are ready to go, oh wait maybe not, it’s a standard! There are several options, let the DD attempt to drive the car with sure damage to the clutch, stay at the house and crash on the sofa, walk two miles in the snow or let someone who knows how to drive a stick drive, drunk. All, in my mind, are less than ideal options and one of which is both terribly dangerous and illegal. This situation could have easily been avoided. Everyone could have been home in their warm beds had the DD known how to drive a standard.
Another reason to drive a stick is cost. Cars can be expensive. Automobiles with standard transmissions have lower insurance premiums and the manufacturers suggested retail price is also considerably lower than an automatic.
Standard automobiles have safety benefits as well. When driving a standard automobile, the driver has more control of the car, especially in the snow. Not only is control an aspect of safety, but so, too, is the attentiveness of the driver. I pay more attention while driving a standard than an automatic for one simple reason: You have to; you won’t go very far if you don’t. The level of attention required leads to a safer, more aware driver.
Now, I’m not saying everyone should own a standard vehicle. I see the benefits and ease of owning an automatic; it definitely makes texting while driving much more simple. But as long as there are functioning standard automobiles on this planet, everyone should know how to drive a manual should the need ever arise.
On another note, the biggest turn off is meeting a guy who can’t drive my car, that’s one sure way to make it into the “friend zone” rather quickly.