By Michaela Ard
Students choose simplicity as the percent of stick shift
cars on the road decreases. When does the convenience of an
automatic vehicle override the perks of manually shifting
The word “simple” is a term loved by most college students. This
concept can be applied to exams, jobs, and even the preference of
an automatic or manual vehicle.
The usage of manual transmissions, also known as stick shift,
has dropped below 10 percent in the United States for multiple
“An automatic is easier,” said Monique Garcia, a first-year
“I feel as if it is safer because when you have a stick shift
you have to change gears to drive. [This is] such a hassle and you
can’t change gears as quickly . . . if there is an emergency,” she
Safety is one important factor in the debate between automatic
and manual cars.
On average, college students in their late teens and early
twenties, are less experienced than older drivers, and therefore
need as few distractions as possible.
The constant need to press the pedal and change gears with one
hand arguably requires more concentration and discipline when
driving, which can be difficult for inexperienced motorists.
“I think [a manual] would distract me,” said Julie Snook, a
fourth-year apparel merchandising and management student.
I believe I too would be overwhelmed with the constant attention
needed to drive a stick shift.
I drive an automatic and even with that particular luxury, I
sometimes loose concentration on the road.
Another factor students think about when deciding their
preference between stick shift and automatic is their comfort
It is easier to stick to something they are used to, especially
after only a few years of driving.
“An automatic is all I have ever driven,” said Christina
Carlson, a first-year international business student.
The fact that fewer drivers actually try to drive a manual car
is a testament to the transmission’s dying breed.
According to a 2003 statistic, 92.6 percent of cars and trucks
on the road were automatic, leaving 7.4% percent as manual
These numbers supply the notion that drivers choose automatic
cars because there are more options to choose from.
Automatic cars do, however, posses positive attributes of their
Bhavik Patel, a fifth-year accounting student, has an
interesting reason for his preference of manual cars over
“I do performance driving, and a manual transmission allows more
control,” siad Patel.
NASCAR drivers, also use stick shift because they need as much
control over their vehicle as possible, especially when they are
traveling over 100 miles-per-hour.
Misha Parfet, a fifth-year plant science student, favors manual
cars for a more practical and economical reason.
“[Manuals] tend to have better gas mileage,” she said.
The reason manual vehicles provide better gas mileage is the
fact that the driver is in full control of the gears.
Because the driver is not dealing with the entire transmission,
manually shifting gears can save gas.
If you are a driver who wishes to practice and adjust to a stick
shift, you could be rewarded with fewer expenses in gasoline bills
and more control over the vehicle itself.
On the other hand, automatic transmissions may mean more dollars
in the tank, but ultimately make for a smoother and overall easier
Reach Micheala Ard at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Illustration by Sarah Elkeaikati
Shifting to automatic
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