There's a debate going on at The Truth About Cars about which is the better tranny, auto or manual. The automatic side points out "he main premise of my article was simple: it takes a higher level of driver attention to operate a manual transmission than an automatic." Because of this, it is deemed safer to use an automatic rather than a manual.
In a perfect world, that statement would ring true, but it's far from a perfect world. There's a technique employed by big-rig drivers when they're caught in stop and go traffic. They move at a constant speed whenever possible, and the skillful almost never touch their brakes. They just coast along, while everyone else using their slushboxes speed up, apply the brakes, stop, then start the cycle over again.
Because of the manual transmission in an 18-wheeler, the driver does have to pay more attention to what they are doing, otherwise they'll be shifting gears constantly. The driver is scanning ahead, and matching their speed to the general flow of traffic. Instead of adding to the traffic problem, they're doing their small part to alleviate it.
I've tried, and there's no way to achieve this technique with an autobox. Below 35 mph there's just no way to regulate your speed precisely enough, the transmission fights you every step of the way. So what does all this have to do with safety? It's precisely because the manual transmission forces you to be an active participant in the act of driving more than an automatic that makes your average manual driver safer than your average auto driver.
You have to scan ahead,rewad the road, and comprehend what's going on around you so you're not caught in the wrong gear. An automatic driver just hits the accelerator and goes, and to most it really doesn't matter what's happening five or ten car lengths in front of them, they'l happily let the tranny decide what gear to pick after they have to break because they didn'y\t predict that car merging into their lane. Again, in a perfect world, the auto has the advantage, because it frees you to worry about other things, the only problem is human nature takes that to mean that you don't have to worry about what's happening on the road ahead, while manuals force you to care. Your attention is more focused on the job in front of you, not what's happening at the office, in your marriage, and with the kids.
If something forces a driver to pay more attention to what they're doing on the road, that's a good thing, not a hinderance.
3 hours ago