Recently, a little more often than in the past, we get asked if we teach automatic driving lessons. It is something we do offer but there is a lack of Automatic instructors in the Brighton and Hove area. So why is it still better to get a full manual license?
Is it easier to learn in an automatic?
To be honest the very simple answer is yes! But only very slightly for 99% of people. The difference is only really a few hours in the scheme of things. The basics of clutch and gear control would be covered in the first few lessons and then during the rest of the lessons that you have this will gradually improve through practice of all aspects of learning to drive. If you chose to learn in an automatic or a manual car you will still have to learn to judge all possible situations that you can come across including roundabouts, parked cars, junctions, Dual Carriageways etc etc. So while learning the ability to deal with all of this the gears and clutch control will be improving behind the scenes through regular use.
Why are autos becoming more popular?
Automatic cars are no new thing. Auto technology has been moving along at a steady pace for decades. In some ways, modern automatic cars are better than manual ones. They take less effort to drive and gear changes are now (in very modern automatic cars) faster and more efficient than a manual. A few high end cars are now made as automatic as standard with manual gears being the alternative option. But then there is the lack of control you get with the manual gearbox for example when going down steep hills and also the lack of interaction with the car and the fun feel of driving.
Electric cars have no need for gears so are always automatic. This is due to the mechanics of an electric car, which being honest not being an engineer I don’t fully understand!
So why still learn in a manual car?
As things stand over 80% of cars on the roads are manual. With a full manual licence you can drive 100% of the cars out there. With an auto licence you are then restricted to just 20%. Not so bad if you are buying a brand new car I guess but this limits your choice of second hand cars massively. Then think about company pool cars, hire cars, friends and relatives cars. If you only have an automatic licence it could hinder you at work, holiday plans and also stop you sharing the driving on long journeys with family or maybe even hinder your job opportunities in some cases.
In my experience it is very rare that gears or clutch control cause major problems while teaching people to drive. Like all skills, once you have learnt to do it, you pretty much have that skill for life. Indeed some time out may make you rusty but it soon comes back with a little practice or a refresher lesson or two. More often than not difficulties in driving that lead to test fails are decision making or awareness based. It is very rare that a fail for stalling or incorrect use of gears occurs.
We know manuals aren’t for everyone. In the modern world of instant information and doing everything as fast and easily as possible I can see the appeal of automatics verses manual. But as things stand, the manual licence still has so many benefits and it isn’t going to die off quite yet! 99% of people are more than capable of getting a full driving license so don’t shy away!”