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Taking Automatic Driving Lessons

Automatic High: the highs and lows of automatic lessons

  • Helpful advice on whether you should take automatic driving lessons

Automatic lessons can be ideal for anyone who struggles with changing gear, who finds driving a very complex task (even after a fair few lessons, when for most of us the whole clutch-gear-biting point thing has switched to autopilot mode) or anyone from the US, where it is commonly accepted that manual or stick-shift cars are definitely déclassé.

Automatic lessons aren’t as popular in the UK as they are in many European countries or US states, but there are a healthy number of companies who offer automatic car tuition. Well-known companies like BSM have been doing automatic lessons for a long time but there are hundreds of other, independent instructors who specialise in using automatic gearbox cars if they find that there's a suitable demand for such lessons.

Benefits of learning to drive an automatic car

Driving an automatic car has definite benefits, too. The car changes gear for you at the appropriate time, so you’ll rarely over-rev an automatic car; and although your fuel consumption may be slightly less economical than a manual car, overall it can make a worthwhile difference in the level of effort required when driving on longer journeys.

It also makes driving a lot less stressful, as you let the car do a lot of the thinking and analysing – all you need to do is control the brake and the accelerator.

Price-wise, you’ll pay the same rates as you would in a manual car, which means you won’t be out of pocket for being different. Most companies offer the same introductory rates and special offers for automatic cars as for manual cars, too.

And if you still haven’t been swayed, several companies offer intensive automatic courses – so if you’re one of the impatient types, then fear not.

On the other hand… the drawback of automatic lessons

However, there are several significant downsides to driving an automatic car. If you take your driving test in an automatic car, you’re not qualified to drive a manual car. If, on the other hand, you pass your test in a manual, you are allowed to drive an automatic.

You’ll pick up driving a lot faster during automatic lessons – not having to change gear really does make all the difference sometimes! – but it won’t necessarily make you a better driver. Part of being a good driver involves knowing what gear a car should be in for any given situation: in other words, a manual car forces you to analyse the road ahead and adapt your driving to suit. In an automatic, you can simply react at the last second (or, at the very least, a lot later on) and the automatic transmission will make sure the car also reacts. It’s a lazy habit to get into, and switching to a manual car after learning or even driving an automatic car can be difficult.

There are no real issues with automatic lessons in themselves: you learn the same things (mostly) and are examined on the same aspects of driving in your practical test. The difference comes when you actually pass, and only you will know if those differences are going to matter.


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