Manual or Automatic? Considerations for Learning to Drive


According to recent DVSA statistics, more and more drivers are eschewing manual cars for automatic lessons: 14% of tests are now taken as automatic-only, compared to 3.8% in 2008. There are many reasons for the increased uptake of automatic lessons, but the continued abundance of cars with manual transmissions makes the decision a tough one. Here are some of the main things you should take into consideration before you settle on which test to take.

Limiting Your Skills

Learning to drive on an automatic vehicle may seem like an initially enticing option, but if you want to have the luxury of choice when it comes to the cars you drive you may need to think again. Learning automatic precludes you from driving a manual vehicle until you upgrade your test, limiting your options when choosing a vehicle and potentially presenting issues if you need to borrow or rent a car.

Learning and Accessibility

Put simply, learning automatic is easier than learning manual. This may seem like a self-evident fact, but it is important to understand exactly why. Automatic driving involves less movements and mobility than manual driving, which requires hand movements and deft operation of a clutch pedal. As such, automatic cars can be more accessible.

Manual driving, meanwhile, requires more co-ordinated movement to pull off successfully. While rewarding in its own right, this can take longer to get right. In order to keep learning costs down, manual learners may take informal lessons from friends and relatives. If you do this, it is important that you get learner driver insurance for a day in order to be covered on your friend or relative’s vehicle.

Cost of Learning

Speaking of the cost of learning, there are key cost advantages to both automatic and manual learning. For starters, manual driving lessons are often cheaper than lessons in automatic vehicles. However, automatic is easier to learn – meaning that you would need fewer lessons, and thus spend less money on lessons. If you are a quick learner, learning to drive manual can be cost-effective, while automatic is a convenient way to save costs.

Insurance Considerations

Lastly, there are longer-term factors that you may want to consider when weighing up your options. One particular factor is that of insurance; automatic cars are often more expensive to insure than cars with manual gearboxes. There are a few reasons for this, which add up to automatic cars and their drivers representing a higher risk than manual drivers. If you are hoping to keep running costs low in the long term, it can be cost-efficient to drive manual.


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