A Manual Transmission Might Keep You From Getting Speeding Tickets

Illustration for article titled A Manual Transmission Might Keep You From Getting Speeding Tickets

I should be honest and mention that our editor-in-chief, Patrick George, doesn’t think this is A Thing. Raph and David, my co-writers and fellow shitbox-owners, do. So now I’m curious as to how widespread this practice is. Manual transmission drivers: do you ever shift in such a way as to help keep you from speeding?


I’m sure most of our regular readers will know what I’m about to suggest already. Since pretty much anyone who drives has either exceeded a speed limit or has lied about never exceeding a speed limit, this is something any driver can appreciate: a manual transmission can help you avoid speeding tickets.

People not familiar with actually driving stick, or only exposed to the idea of gear shifting as something that happens every 1.3 seconds in Fast and Furious movies may find this idea counterintuitive, but it’s absolutely true.

Because each gear in a manual is effectively a speed range, and since you, the driver, gets to choose what range you’re driving in, you can choose, based on your own reasons, to keep a car in whatever gear you want (within reason).

An automatic gearbox makes its decisions without consulting you, remember, and sometimes my desires may be counter to just maximum efficiency.

For example, near where I live is a long, open, straight, almost highway-like road with an annoyingly low speed limit of 35-45 (it changes), and it’s very, very well populated by bored, ticket-hungry cops.

I always found myself doing 50-60 on the road without realizing it. I’ve gotten tickets on that road before, and way too many near misses recently. I don’t trust myself enough to keep it to the right speed, so I need some help.


Manual transmissions to the rescue! Here’s the solution: leave the car in a lower gear. In my Beetle, for example, if I leave it in third instead of shifting to 4th, I won’t go 50 or 60 mph because in 3rd gear, 60 mph sounds like everything’s gonna explode. Third gear means I’m nearing the top end of the gear at 45 or 50 or so, and I have plenty of audio and performance cues to remind me of my speed, without having to rely on my feeble willpower or self-preservation.

Since you can feel the car revving higher as you approach that speed limit, you don’t need to be watching that speedo like a hawk to be sure you’re not going to get pulled over. You just drive by feel, and it works great.


Every car has different shift points, but if there’s an area you know you always speed in, a manual gives you an option to easily and willingly restrict yourself, even if your mind and right foot wander as you drive.

Sure, you’ll get worse gas mileage, but for those well-policed stretches of road, burning a few extra Gs P each M is much less of a big deal than getting yet another point on your license.


It’s not the main reason anyone drives a manual, but it’s something you can use to help at least get your automatic-coddled friends interested, right?

So, who else does this? Speak up now, so I can finally prove to Patrick that this is A Thing.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)


Patrick George

Fake news! I’ve been getting speeding tickets in manual-transmission cars for years now. YEARS.