I love driving vehicles with manual transmission. I’ve touched on this subject before (see #3), and the reason behind my preference with manual transmissions is that: you actually feel like you’re driving. You feel like you’re doing something. A vehicle that is automatic (and in the case of my hybrid: continuously variable) transmission means that you’re really just a passenger. Your left foot gets bored.
My old truck, going on 30 years old, is a 4-on-the-floor. I LOVED that truck. She took me to college and back and is now in the employ of my Mom on the farm. I learned how to work a clutch, how to sit on an uphill incline and not have to sit on the brakes, holding the truck in one spot by balancing my feet on the pedals. I learned about things like torque and listening to the engine to know when it was (and wasn’t) supposed to shift.
I have a long commute to work and back. I see a LOT of people driving, or rather making an attempt at driving. The automatic transmissions have taking the actual act of driving out of the equation. People don’t pay attention anymore to what traffic is doing, they aren’t even “defensively driving” anymore; they’re merely along for the ride.
Learning to “drive a stick”, taught me not only defensive driving skills, but ASSERTIVE driving skills. “I’ve already shifted into third gear you, Bastard…. don’t you dare speed up and try to get in front of me because I will win.” (Um… So, I have a habit of swearing and name-calling when I drive.)
I’m not trying to sound all high-and-mighty with this… I’m guilty of eating while driving (one of the leading causes of accidents). I have read texts that come through (only responding while stopped at red lights though). I fiddle with my iPod (who listens to radio anymore?). I talk on my phone (via headset – both hands on the wheel). Yes, I may do all of those things, and while I shouldn’t I do know my vehicle; it fits me light a glove. I know where everything is without having to look. I watch the other cars. What driver is playing “pinball” within their lane lines? Who is attempting to read the paper or a map during bumper-to-bumper traffic as we hurtle along at 75 m.p.h.? What care is causing the backup in the far right lane? Is that driver across the way who keeps looking left going to turn (because they don’t have their turn signal on) or are they going to go straight? Why does the car ahead of me have their backup lights on? These are the things I think of and pay attention to on my commute, as should everyone… but they don’t.
DH and I will have to replace our truck in the next couple years; for now we can limp her along, as we don’t drive her very much. She’s an automatic transmission. She works. She’s paid for, but the next truck I want to be a manual transmission again. I want to feel like I’m driving.