Learning how to drive for the first time isn’t always pretty.

How did you learn: automatic or stick shift? Is one easier than the other? We went back to Driver's Ed to find out.

“What we believe if that you should learn to drive in an automatic if at all possible, do that for a year, learn how to deal with traffic and then introduce stick shift,” said Mark Stolberg with Master Drive in Centennial, Colorado.

Stolberg teaches 3,000 people how to drive every year. Most of people he teaches learns the art and ease of automatic.

“In a stick shift, you have to deal with many movements all at the same time that have very little to do with the safety of driving through traffic,” Stolberg said. “So we’re adding another layer to the driving task.”

It's a layer some teen drivers say they are happy to live without.

“I would be scared learning to drive on a stick shift to begin with because I’m already sitting there with all these different things to think about and not having to change gears is one less thing to worry about,” said Lucca Raabe, a Master Drive student.

“With the stick shift you have to know what’s going on at all times so you’re busy with both of your hands,” said Sebastian Rose, another student driver. “There’s not a lot of time for you to mess with the radio or anything else.”


Stick shift means less distracted driving. Right?

Not necessarily.

“Distraction in distracted driving is what your brain is focused on,” Stolberg said. “So if your brain is not focused on dealing with traffic then you’re distracted. So if you’re focused on stick shifting that could be a distraction to your driving itself.”

Parents are on both ends of the spectrum.

“I prefer she learn manual,” said Steve Kurtz, father of student driver, Sara Kurtz. “I know it’s a dying art and practice but you learn so much about the car and learn to focus.”

Other parents say keep it simple, keep it easy.

“Automatic, there’s too much going on in the world,” said father Andy Raabe.

There is no right or wrong way to learn and in the end, it’s about finding your sweet spot.

When it comes to your car, you can get the best of both worlds.

Some cars have both stick and automatic options and with new technology you can select your gears without the need for a clutch.