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Are Manual Cars Safer?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents


The debate has raged for decades. Which is better: a manual or automatic transmission? Diehard car lovers never fail to brag about the benefits and fun of driving a stick shift. Other individuals enjoy the efficiency and ease of driving an automatic. In fact, automatics have far surpassed manuals in popularity. However, questions that should also be considered are whether manual cars are safer or are they more likely to cause a serious car accident?

Fewer manual options are available for both common family vehicles and sports cars than ever before. Edmunds.com senior analyst Ivan Drury stated at the Los Angeles Auto Show this November that fewer than 3 percent of current U.S. vehicle sales are for manual transmissions. Additionally, only 27 percent of models sold in the U.S. offer both automatic and manual options. As these vehicles disappear, it doesn’t hurt to consider the implications for safety on the roads.

Driving an Automatic versus a Stick Shift

Many people believe manual transmissions are safer and lead to fewer accidents. The premise is that when people have to use a clutch and shifter, they are forced to focus on driving. There is less room for error with a manual vehicle. Drivers must listen to the vehicle, keep careful watch on what the cars around them are doing, and avoid going into “autopilot.” Drivers who have to keep their hands free to shift are far less likely to pick up a cell phone or take part in other distractions when they drive. Additionally, many manual drivers believe they have greater control over the cars, which can be important in hazardous conditions like heavy traffic and poor weather.

However, an opposing argument can be made. Manual transmissions can be a distraction. For inexperienced drivers, having an extra pedal and gear shift can make it easier to make a mistake behind the wheel because there are too many tasks to attend to at once. Also, people may have a tendency to use their phones or eat and drink behind the wheel whether they drive a manual or not. Multitasking is already difficult, but doing so when you need to shift gears could make multitasking even more dangerous.

Which is Safer?

In the end, there is too little data to definitively conclude whether a manual or automatic vehicle is safer to drive. It is possible that a manual could keep drivers focused and away from their cell phones. It is also possible that an extra pedal and stick shift could be distracting to some drivers. More likely than not, safety comes down to the skill, experience, and attention of the driver behind the wheel. Drivers with years of experience who understand the necessity of keeping a close eye on the road and remaining cautious may end up in fewer collisions than inexperienced drivers who let their minds and eyes wander from their task.

Call a Lawyer After a Collision

If you are hit by another car, you probably won’t care if the other person drove a manual or automatic car at the time. You hold the driver responsible no matter the type of transmission is in the vehicle. When you have been hurt in a collision, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. right away. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. However, this is not always your best option. You may need to seek medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering through a personal injury lawsuit. Call us today at (312) 236-2900 to schedule a consultation.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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