Do you have any standards?
Do you have any standards? I don’t; I never did. I’m not talking about your values or morals; I’m talking about manual transmission vehicles. I’ve always had an automatic transmission vehicle. I was already teaching students with an automatic transmission vehicle at Young Drivers of Canada before I learned how to drive a standard transmission vehicle. Teaching in an automatic transmission vehicle never gave me a chance to own a standard transmission vehicle, but I have driven many over the years.
Some of the advantages of driving a standard transmission vehicle are that it keeps your mind on driving and helps you stay focused on that task. You have to keep paying attention to what’s going on ahead of you so you have adjust speed early and change gears as necessary. When I started teaching in the car, I ended up with students who started their driving career learning in a standard transmission vehicle, but they couldn’t handle it. Maybe it was too much to remember at the same time? Maybe it was their lack of coordination? Who knows, but they did the right thing for them by reducing their tasks while learning how to drive.
Each year that I was involved as a judge with Canada’s Worst Driver we did a standard challenge. Some of the participants could drive a standard, but most couldn’t. I gave them each roughly ten minutes to learn the basics, but that isn’t nearly enough time to get the muscle memory of using the clutch and knowing when to change gears. I suggested to those who wanted to improve their standard driving to take some lessons to improve their skills.
The second vehicle my younger brother bought was standard transmission. He really liked the looks of the vehicle but couldn’t drive standard. I took the vehicle out for the test drive for him and thought it was a smooth running vehicle. After some mechanical checks, he decided to buy it. Our dad drove it home for him and then I gave him the basics of getting the vehicle moving from a stopped position. He practiced while going up and down the driveway and around the block. He didn’t want to go too far in case he got into trouble.
The upside to driving a standard vehicle is that you can save fuel – provided you shift gears smoothly and at the appropriate times. It can also make you feel like you and your vehicle are one. I wouldn’t suggest you start talking to your car expecting it to hear you and calling it sweet names, but you will feel like you’re in more control of the speed of your vehicle while driving standard. Another upside is that fixing a standard transmission can be less expensive than that of an automatic transmission vehicle. They can also be cheaper to buy new compared to automatic vehicles.
The downside is if you’re doing a lot of driving in rush hour traffic, it can be quite tiring for you. If your use of the clutch isn’t as smooth as it could be, it could also mean you may have to pay for a new clutch sooner, rather than later. And as you get older, your legs may not have all of that flexibility that you once had. These are all things to consider if you want to continually drive a standard vehicle.
Now you have some things to think about. Learning to drive a standard is helpful, especially if you have to borrow a friend’s standard vehicle at some point, so taking the time to learn it is a good thing. Whether or not you want to own a standard vehicle is up to you. Not everyone has standards.