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Solution to Teen Distracted Driving: Get a Manual Transmission

If you want to discourage your teenager from texting while driving, make him or her drive a car with a manual transmission. A driver who has to work the gearshift constantly must stay focused. Seattle's NBC News affiliate describes how one local family uses this approach:

Riley's parents took notice of all those messages about the risks of using a phone while driving - too many sad stories. And while they trust their son, they're not taking any chances. 

Riley has a smart phone, but when he gets in the car, it goes into a compartment. Blue Tooth?  That might come later. But the car forces Riley to keep one hand on the wheel, and the other on the stick, especially in city traffic. 

Link -via Jalopnik

(Photo: cmonville)


While I understand the reasoning, it's not advised to drive with one hand on the stick áll the time. Only when actually shifting.
Even more so, it's not necessary all the time either. On a highway you have to shift to the highest gear, keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.

Where I'm from, driving stick is taught as a standard.
If drivers don't show to be sensible in the way that you simple "can't" do anything else with your hands but driving when driving, they shouldn't be in the first place. This goes for all ages.
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Many moons ago, when I learned to drive, if you took your test on an automatic you had a restriction put on your license. And people who could only drive an automatic were scoffed at.
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Where I live, driving stick is typical, and that's what I drive. Shifting gears is only demanding for so long; after a while, your brain gets trained enough that it's part of driving, just like everything else. While a nuisance when you need a free hand, there are solutions around, even while driving through busy city traffic (where you need to fiddle with the stick a lot more than on longer trips, as Barking_Bud correctly pointed out above).

Having said all of the above, I totally recommend a teenager's first car should be manual transmission. Having to switch gears manually really helps you get an intimate feeling for how things work inside the engine, when you can expect power and when you shouldn't, and generally how to take advantage of a car's engine.
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Part of my driver's education was on a 1940 Ford 9N tractor. It had not only a clutch and a gear stick, but two brakes, a throttle, a choke and an uncomfortably high center of gravity. Driving it was tricky.
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Er, take it from someone who lives in the UK (where stick shift is the norm) this would NOT do anything to stop teenagers being teenagers. Best one I saw here was an idiot rolling a cigarette while steering with his elbows! The real answer is to make teenagers drive little electric 2 person bumper cars until they are 28 (when their brains suddenly get into gear).
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My kids want to learn to drive a stick shift. But our manual truck died, and a decent affordable used car with a stick shift is very hard to find these days. In all honesty, I'd rather have a 30-40 year old car anyway because you can repair them at home. Too bad those are considered "antique."
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I hope this push for manual does take off. In addition to reducing texting while driving, it might also introduce more people to how enjoyable it is to actually operate a vehicle, to enjoy driving rather than just seeing it as a way to get from Point A to Point B.
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