How automatic is manual gear shifting?

D. Shinar, M. Meir, I. Ben-Shoham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Manual gear shifting is often used as an example of an automated (vs. controlled) process in driving. The present study provided an empirical evaluation of this assumption by evaluating sign detection and recall performance of novice and experienced drivers driving manual shift and automatic transmission cars in a downtown area requiring frequent gear shifting. The results showed that manual gear shifting significantly impaired sign detection performance of novice drivers using manual gears compared with novice drivers using an automatic transmission, whereas no such differences existed between the two transmission types for experienced drivers. The results clearly demonstrate that manual gear shifting is a complex psychomotor skill that is not easily (or quickly) automated and that until it becomes automated, it is an attention-demanding task that may impair other monitoring aspects of driving performance. Actual or potential applications of this research include a reevaluation of the learning process in driving and the need for phased instruction in driving from automatic gears to manual gears.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-654
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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