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Manual vs Automatic Car Safety: Which One Is Safer?

ByMatsumoto Naoki-February 05, 2021

What’s the most effective way to intrigue the car enthusiasts into a debate? Pop a question about anything related to the classic ‘manual versus automatic’! The topic of manual vs automatic car safety could be another addition to that never-ending debate. What do you think? Which one could be the best option for keeping us safe on the road?

Manual vs Automatic Car Safety: Which One Is Better?

Both the transmission types have fervent supporters who can produce plenty of logic in their favor. However, there is no solid data to settle a winner. Read the benefits of both the types and choose yourself!

The Case for Automatic Transmission

Most of the recent cars have this gearbox. In fact, some manufacturers have totally ignored the stick shift for some of their models. Let’s see how much safe they are on the road:

The Good

The automatic transmission is definitely the safer option if you are a novice driver. It does not require the driver to do much, reducing the chance to lose car’s control in traffic. There’s no need to change gear, operate the clutch, and think about the braking or acceleration while watching for the traffic or traffic lights.

It is safer for the new and older drivers. (photo source: Autocolumn.com)

Auto cars are easier to maneuver. The gearbox has some safety mechanisms, lowering the chance of accidents. Unlike the manual, the chance of getting stuck somewhere because of mishandling of the clutch is absolutely zero.

The ‘Park’ or ‘P’ mode in the auto gearbox is a safety mechanism that you must appreciate. Putting the car in that mode virtually rules out the chance of rolling down from a slope even if you leave it unattended.

The Bad

Driving an automatic in the mountains is risky for less skilled drivers. If you don’t know anything about engine speeds, brake, or gears, you will probably ruin the transmission by not moving it to the right mode while ascending or descending a hilly road. For example, you may ruin the gearbox if you don’t shift the lever to 2 while climbing up a road. On the other hand, overheating the brakes will be a byproduct of leaving the lever in ‘D’ while driving down a slope.

You don’t have to concentrate much except for focusing on steering while driving an auto car. This could be bad in the sense that the driver can get too relaxed and lose focus on driving.

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The Case for Manual Transmission

The stick shift has a devoted fan following. Is it safer than the automatic? Let’s find out:

The Good

Many veteran drivers will swear for this gearbox because it offers more control. Skilled drivers like the fact that a manual car gives them options to handle unusual conditions such as avoiding a collision or riding a slippery road.

Driving a manual vehicle warrants more attention, which is probably good because you don’t have the scope to eat a burger or fiddle with the phone.

Manual gear offers more control options. (photo source: Audi)

The Bad

Operating a manual transmission seems to be doing lots of tasks at the same time. It won’t be a problem for someone experienced with a stick shift car, but the same can’t be said for someone inexperienced or aged. Age affects the cognitive ability. So, older drivers find it more challenging to give that much attention to operating a manual car.

Unlike an automatic, it’s not easy to park a manual car on a slanted surface. You have to shift the gear to the parking brake and put it in either reverse or first. Otherwise, the car may roll away.

Conclusion

From the above discussion about the manual vs automatic car safety, it seems that driving manual cars could be testing for older and novice drivers. Also, it might not be the best option for teenagers who don’t have the patience to master the stick shift. Otherwise, neither manual nor automatic transmission appears to have any conclusive safety advantage over the other.

Matsumoto Naoki is senior car blogger at Car From Japan. Having background in mechanical engineering, he has a unique perspective on a lot of new car innovations. Prior to Car From Japan, Matsumoto was Mechanical Design Engineer at Yajima Plant, Subaru Corporation. His articles provide detailed DIY instructions and how-tos to help you get your new car on the road. If you want to save money and feel more confident when working on your cars, you should not ignore Matsumoto’s sharing posts. He presents driving tips and tricks for everyone through easy-following steps and mechanically but friendly writing.

Comments

Mez06:10 January 31, 2019
Reply

Parking is actually way easier with a manual car. You don’t bump 20 cms/7-8 inches every time you release the brake. You engage the clutch and the accelerator the exact amount you need to go forward or backwards. You can go cm by cm if you want while its impossible with an automatic.

Parking in a city between super tight spots with an automatic transmission car is an absolute mess because you cant drive them as precisely as manual.