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Can I Drive An Automatic With A Manual Licence?

Can I Drive An Automatic With A Manual Licence

Can I Drive An Automatic With A Manual Licence?

Most people in the UK take their driving test in a car with manual gears. But that doesn’t mean that they can only drive manual vehicles; a manual licence allows you to drive automatic vehicles as well.

On the other hand, if you pass your test in an automatic car then the examiner hasn’t seen that you are able to change gears safely, and so your licence will restrict you to driving only vehicles which have an automatic gearbox.

What is manual, and what is automatic?

If you thought this was a simple question, you are mistaken.

In law, a vehicle with automatic transmission is defined as one where the driver has no manual control of the clutch. It is the pressing and releasing of the clutch pedal, and the timing of that act to create a smooth gear change, which makes a vehicle a manual, rather than an automatic.

So, even if it is possible to manually change gear in a car, if the car doesn’t have a clutch pedal (or another way for the driver to control the clutch) then it counts as an automatic.

This is an important fact to note because it means that, with the advent of hybrid and paddle-shift vehicles, many of which do not have a conventional clutch, it’s possible to drive a far greater range of vehicles on an automatic licence than ever before.

Electric cars

The future of motoring is electric.

All electric cars are classed as automatic because they don’t have a gearbox in the conventional sense, and so there is no need to change gear. Although this means that passing your test in an electric car would restrict you to driving only automatic vehicles in future, if you’re driving an electric car anyway, the chances are this doesn’t matter too much.

So, automatic or manual?

For the majority of people, it will be better to pass your test in a vehicle with a manual transmission, if possible. A manual licence means that you can drive any vehicle, without having to worry about the type of transmission it has.

However, for many people, an automatic vehicle is more practical. It could be that a driver has a physical disability which makes using clutch control difficult, or simply that they find manual gear changes and clutch timing especially challenging. Whatever the reason – and whatever your mates may say – there’s no shame in having an automatic licence.