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-   -   Manual transmissions reduce accidents? (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=70534)

snopes 14 February 2011 08:30 PM

Manual transmissions reduce accidents?
 
Comment: Several websites claim that driving a vehicle with a manual
transmission reduces the rate of accidents per-mile-driven (reduction by
37% is often claimed, citing an illusive NHTSA study). Is there any truth
to this rumor?

GenYus234 14 February 2011 08:47 PM

It is possible that at one time, manual transmission cars were involved in less accidents than automatic transmission cars. It seems that people who know how to drive stick are becoming less common. If so, then that means that at some point, there were a larger number of new drivers who were driving automatic transmissions. And, since newer drivers generally have higher accident rates, that might do it. But that would probably be more like 0.37%, not 37%.

Another possibility is that people who drive a manual in traffic or in the city need to keep shifting gears. So they might be less likely to be doing something distracting like talking on a hand-held phone or eating as they need to keep both hands free.

Dara bhur gCara 14 February 2011 09:18 PM

Automatics aren't as common in the UK, and I've only owned manual cars. Also, it turns out, I make the decision to shift up and down gear based more on engine noise than anything else. These two factors in common mean that, when I drive my Dad's automatic car, I find myself shifting into neutral at high speed quite often. I've not got into an accident yet, but it must make the likelihood of an accident much higher.

Also, I've only been done for speeding in my father's car, for much the same reason I think. Because I don't know what gear I'm in, I don't have as good an idea of how fast I'm going.

Chloe 14 February 2011 09:20 PM

Damn those illusive studies!

Dara bhur gCara 14 February 2011 09:27 PM

What, like a mirage?

GenYus234 14 February 2011 09:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chloe (Post 1408818)
Damn those illusive studies!

A recent study found that people who curse have an IQ that is 35 points less than those who don't curse.

Quidam 14 February 2011 10:42 PM

A recent study found that adolescent drivers with ADHD found

Quote:

Manual Transmission Enhances Attention and Driving Performance of ADHD Adolescent Males
...
Results: Subjectively, participants report being more attentive while driving in manual transmission mode. Objectively, participants drive safer in the manual transmission mode.

I can find no data to show that this is true for all drivers or just young drivers with ADHD

Obviously we all have our preferences and I prefer to drive a manual since I feel I have better control of the vehicle. I'm also sure that having full-time all wheel drive makes more difference than the gearbox

Roadsterboy 14 February 2011 11:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1408795)
Another possibility is that people who drive a manual in traffic or in the city need to keep shifting gears. So they might be less likely to be doing something distracting like talking on a hand-held phone or eating as they need to keep both hands free.

Another scenario is rear ending someone at a traffic light. In a manual there's a pretty good likelihood of stalling if you are startled and don't get the timing right. In an automatic it's much easier to mash the throttle and shoot into whatever's in front of you.

-RB

Chloe 14 February 2011 11:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1408830)
A recent study found that people who curse have an IQ that is 35 points less than those who don't curse.

Wouldn't that be an allusive study?

Wolf333 14 February 2011 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chloe (Post 1408818)
Damn those illusive studies!

Dammit! Duh...

BoKu 14 February 2011 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chloe (Post 1408907)
Wouldn't that be an allusive study?

Only when it features an oblique reference to another study.

GenYus234 14 February 2011 11:31 PM

You two are so obtuse.

rhiandmoi 14 February 2011 11:39 PM

In my sample size of one, I can say that I drove 200,000 miles with a manual transmission car and got into 3 accidents. I have since then driven 15,000 miles in an automatic and have already gotten in 2 accidents. So yes. Manual transmission was much safer for me.

bluestocking 15 February 2011 03:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roadsterboy (Post 1408906)
Another scenario is rear ending someone at a traffic light. In a manual there's a pretty good likelihood of stalling if you are startled and don't get the timing right. In an automatic it's much easier to mash the throttle and shoot into whatever's in front of you.

Of course, for drivers like me, a manual transmission means there's a pretty good likelihood of rolling backward and crashing into the next car in line!

fitz1980 15 February 2011 05:52 AM

There is also the whole issue of correlation vs causality or "the chicken and the egg" question.

Even if the numbers are true would that mean that driving a stick shift keeps a driver more alert and hence safer? Or is it that skillful drivers are more likely to select a stick shift when choosing a car?

Stick shifts tend to be the transmission of choice for car enthusiasts, the kind of people who understand engines, cars, gear ratios and consider diving to be passion. That's not quite the same as a person who can't figure out how to work a stick shift and only really considers driving to be the only way to get around town (which it is for many in the US) and who's knowledge of cars ends with mashing the gas and pointing the car in the desired direction of travel.

Squirt 15 February 2011 08:47 AM

Using my famed "3 minutes spent on Wolfram Alpha and Google" research technique, the US has quite a higher rate of fatal accidents than the UK - 1.0191 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles per year in the UK against 1.4583 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles per year in the USA. The USA has an about 85/15 ratio in favour of automatic transmissions, and in the UK it's about the opposite. Therefore, automatics are more dangerous.

Troberg 15 February 2011 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fitz1980 (Post 1409137)
There is also the whole issue of correlation vs causality or "the chicken and the egg" question.

Even if the numbers are true would that mean that driving a stick shift keeps a driver more alert and hence safer? Or is it that skillful drivers are more likely to select a stick shift when choosing a car?

Stick shifts tend to be the transmission of choice for car enthusiasts, the kind of people who understand engines, cars, gear ratios and consider diving to be passion. That's not quite the same as a person who can't figure out how to work a stick shift and only really considers driving to be the only way to get around town (which it is for many in the US) and who's knowledge of cars ends with mashing the gas and pointing the car in the desired direction of travel.

My thoughts exactly, although, here, automatic transmissions are the exception and manual are mainstream. Automatics are usually driven by people who don't care about driving, and that tends to extend to all aspects of driving.

Chloe 15 February 2011 04:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1408937)
You two are so obtuse.

Was it a math joke?

RivkahChaya 15 February 2011 04:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fitz1980 (Post 1409137)
Stick shifts tend to be the transmission of choice for car enthusiasts, the kind of people who understand engines, cars, gear ratios and consider diving to be passion.

Is that true? I kind of do like tinkering with cars, but I'm not a car enthusiast, who is interested in spending money "customizing" a car off the lot. I don't buy car magazines; mostly I just change my own oil when the weather is good.

I don't like automatics. I learned to drive with one, and didn't learn to drive a manual until I was about 22 or 23, but since I learned, that is what I prefer, and what I have always bought.

That's my general experience of people-- I don't know anyone who knows how to drive a manual, but still chooses to drive an automatic. My brother is the only person I know who can drive stick, but has an automatic, and that's because his wife doesn't drive stick, and he can't convince her to learn.

I wonder if the US general preference for automatics is because driving schools use them exclusively. Parents, for their part, send their kids to driving school, because they get a break on their insurance premiums if the teenage driver (whose presence can double insurance premiums) has been to driving school. That means, though, that if the family owns a manual and an automatic, the new driver will prefer the automatic, and the more you drive it, the more you get sort of nervous about trying the manual.

When the boychik turns 16, if things are pretty much the way they are now, I think we'll teach him to drive ourselves first, then send him to driving school, so he'll learn the manual from the ground up, which is what his father did. DH is left-handed, too (so is the boychik), but thinks that right-handed shifting is perfectly easy. Then once the boychik is comfortable with the clutch, he can go to driving school so we get the insurance break.

ETA: since so actual study is cited, we don't know what, if anything it actually says, but if it says that "30% of accidents involve manual transmission cars, vs. 70% with automatic," is meaningless, if 30% of cars in the US have manual transmissions to begin with.

Debunker 15 February 2011 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dara bhur gCara (Post 1408817)
Because I don't know what gear I'm in, I don't have as good an idea of how fast I'm going.

Umm, your father's car doesn't have a speedometer? Or do you just ignore it?


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