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When I moved to US and switched to automatic a single most difficult thing for me to used to was that I need to move to parking before switching engine on/off.

In Europe every time there was a huge traffic jam/wait drivers switched off engine to conserve gas, but this is hard in US because you need to both switch engine and 'gears' at the same time instead of using clutch. I'm assuming they are trying to force some pattern of behaviour - what is it?

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It was fairly common at one point for Americans (and others I'd assume) to forget to put their cars in park before turning off the car and walking away. Inevitably, the car wouldn't be in the same place when they returned, and might indeed have plowed its way into someone's living room. Most would rather the slight inconvenience of not being able to turn off the car without it being in park over having to pay to replace the car and the living room.

You're right on the behavior point as well. Studies show that continuous flow of cars, or as close to it as possible, is the best way to prevent traffic buildups. Every car that turns off the engine during a traffic jam, no matter how good-intentioned it may be, is just slowing down traffic further, and this behavior is being discouraged, or indeed being made impossible, by this design factor.

  • Why would they be in different place? With manual there is no parking anyway and you just put it in first gear. "Every car that turns off the engine during a traffic jam" - that mostly not a problem. No one switches engine off during stop and go traffic but if the light are visible from half a mile away you have plenty of time before it's your turn (and even in US when I know light sequence I'm able to switch engine on before it's my turn to go - though design makes it much harder to do correctly then with manual). Though in manual you need to be neutral anyway due to clutch. – Maciej Piechotka Aug 31 '17 at 18:00
  • You may have just answered your own question. Cars rolling away is a problem often introduced by the car being an automatic, and so it would make sense for there to be additional precautions in automatic vehicles against this. Further, you mentioned time to turn off your engine while waiting for a traffic light from half a mile out. This is a concept entirely alien to most Americans, as an American would consider a two-minute light to be a very long wait, and with short wait times there would simply never be a chance for half a mile of cars to line up before the light changes. – TheEnvironmentalist Aug 31 '17 at 18:38

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