In the US less than 4% of drivers, drive a stick shift, and I can't see why I would now want to. A hundred million years ago when I was first learning to drive, my dad, a stick shift driver for life (who converted to automatic 2 cars ago), made it his number one priority and apparent death wish, to try to teach his beloved daughter to drive a stick.
He took me to this old abandoned strip mall parking lot to start my training. It did not go well. I stalled out and started, then stalled and started about 900 times in his sessions 1-3, before I could actually barely manage to drive from one end of the huge lot to the next. My dad, a very patient man, had instilled in himself, an apparent confidence for the both of us, but I was worried. I wasn't getting the hang of it. This wasn't my dream of getting in a car, windows rolled down with my friends in tow, with the wind blowing through our hair, enjoying our first true taste of freedom away from our parents. Nope. The reality was, I was going about 5 miles an hour, could not remember that I had to hit the clutch and then shift, or that I had to downshift when coming to a stop...ahhhh, it was terrible.
A month later, against my wishes, I was put on the road. You know, the road, with other actual people on it! My dad wanted me to drive about the neighborhood and back all the way around. He said, he knew I could do it. He trusted me. He had faith in me. He said I had a good teacher. He said, that teacher was going to take a nap, while I drove. "Say what," I said. "A nap," he replied, as if that made total sense. My dad closed his eyes, and off I drove peering over at him, and thinking, are you crazy man, I could kill us!
Then it happened. I hit a green light, promptly forgot to step on the clutch and stalled out right in the middle of an intersection. You have NEVER seen anyone more panicked. "Dad wake up! The car stopped! I'm stuck! Cars are honking (let's go of wheel). It won't go! I can't make it go (panicked hiccuping began). My dad woke up and carefully instructed me how to get out of that jam, said let's call it a day, and then enrolled me into Driver's Ed later that afternoon.
That was the last day I ever drove a manual. Literally. My dad traded in his stick for an automatic SUV, which he was planning to do even before I touched his old wheels. My mom drove an automatic. My first and second cars were and are automatic. All my friends and family drive automatics. The one and only person who doesn't is my brother...or I should say, was my brother, until he had a kid, and my sister in law wanted to be able to easily go from car to car in case of emergency, so he thought, hmm, kid needing to be rushed to the hospital or me and my love of driving a stick shift...the kid won.
I don't get why people think driving a stick is some sort of essential to enjoying life or makes one a better person. I'm not a race car driver. I don't feel the need for speed driving through the city's never ending traffic. That's right...how do I even enjoy the one true benefit of driving a stick, when I'm forced to go for an hour each way through 10 mile an hour traffic. Weekend event, more traffic. Going to the airport, going to see a friend, traffic, traffic, traffic.
Driving a stick wouldn't improve anything about my driving accept make me one thousand percent more annoyed, especially after a long day when I just want to go home and relax. I have yet to meet anyone who has explained to me what benefit I can have from driving a stick. You can talk until you are blue in the face about the value of learning new things, but why haven't you learned to cook, or re-wire your house, or walk in high heel shoes, or speak 2 other languages yet? I could ask you the same thing with the same look of consternation? Automatics have come a long way in terms of fuel economy and speed; many now besting manual counterparts. Insurance rates tend to be higher for manual drivers, and studies have shown that manual drivers get in more accidents by comparison to automatic drivers. So what's the big deal?