The article sounds about right, but I remain unconvinced. People can manipulate stats however they want to a certain extent.
First question: how many of those up tick on manual drivers include stats of semi-auto tranny? This can skew stats a bit more in manual favor. Don't put it past people to attempt to do this to curry some sort of favorable stats.
The second question: what's the break down on the age demographics? Younger people tend to go manual until they have a family. Ex: In the US, how many manufacturers are willing to make their minivan or SUV's at least 30-40% of the production as manual? Boy, if they do, a lot of those vehicles would be stuck on the showroom not bought. This was prevalent when the Tauras SHO first came out long ago. Manual drivers were bellyaching that "Ford needs to make SHO at least 50% as manual". Ford's bean counters started to do survey testing and found out only 5-8% were bought as manual SHO.
The third question: The US market is way different than Euro (East and West) and pacific rim countries. The US market stressed bigger vehicles with a bunch of luxury stuff. Also, public transportation isn't as good or just average in certain places while Euro is damn good on public transportation. Euro and pacific rim countries have tons of compact and subcompact cars rolling through cobble stones or very compact roads with heavy pedestrian, bicycle, moped, or livestock traffic. Has anyone seen travel channel of traffic around the Eiffel Tower, Roman Colosseum, or up the Alps? Imagine those roads full of SUV's and minivans . . . boy, traffic fatality would be high for non-car drivers.
The fourth question: Has automatic tranny caught up to manual tranny? IMO, auto tranny is about to surge past manual tranny in efficiency. In the 80's, auto tranny was too heavy and was two or three speed. In the 90's, auto tranny started to lose weight comparing to manual. In modern times, looking at some model weight in carpoint.com, auto tranny is about even to 60 lbs overweight for cars with manual tranny. Also, technology in auto tranny has improved drastically comparing to the 80-90's.
I can tell you my auto tranny experience driving my 84 Renault Alliance (3 spd), 89 240sx, 95 240sx, and 99 LS coupe. 84 Alliance had a crap tranny (typical of all company at that time). 89 240sx (typical at the time, absolute max life would have been 100-150K miles). My current 95 240sx (IMO, I was lucky to find a solid tranny up to 194K and going . . . I have done 3 tranny oil + 1 filter change within 90K). As for RIP 99 LS coupe, this was the best tranny that I had ever drive. My car was about 130K in miles, but it drove strong like it was only 25K miles (had done 2 tranny oil and 1 filter change).
The fifth question: What's the gas prices between the US to the rest of the world? We have lower prices than most countries, excluding oil producing countries who subsidize for their citizens. I dare anyone to look at Qatar's gas prices for its citizens vs non-citizens.
In FL, parallel parking was taking out of the state before I graduated in the early 90's. Only truckers towing stuff pretty much learn this on their own.