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Traffic Why We Drive the Way We Do and What It Says About

Would you be surprised that road rage can be good for society? Or that most crashes happen on sunny dry days? That our minds can trick us into thinking the next lane is moving faster? Or that you can gauge a nation s driving behavior by its levels of corruption? These are only a few of the remarkable dynamics that Tom Vanderbilt explores in this fascinating tour through the mysteries of the road Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe Traffic gets under the hood of the everyday activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical psychological and technical factors that explain how traffic works why we drive the way we do and what our driving says about us Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to accidents He shows how roundabouts which can feel dangerous and chaotic actually make roads safer and reduce traffic in the bargain He uncovers who is likely to honk at whom and why He explains why traffic jams form outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots The car has long been a central part of American life whether we see it as a symbol of freedom or a symptom of sprawl we define ourselves by what and how we drive As Vanderbilt shows driving is a provocatively revealing prism for examining how our minds work and the ways in which we interact with one another Ultimately Traffic is about than driving it s about human nature This book will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us And who knows? It may even make us better drivers


10 thoughts on “Traffic Why We Drive the Way We Do and What It Says About Us

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    I really wanted to like this book I have long held a fascination with traffic probably because of all hours I've spent stuck in it wondering why it behaves the way it does I remember having weird traffic discussions with co workers about traffic like pretend you left the office to go home at 500 and it took you 1 hour to arrive in your driveway Leaving at 530 on the other hand because of the lighter traffic you would roll into your driveway in only half an hour If you and your housemate left at these times is it possible that you'd arrive at home at the same instant despite having left work a half hour apart Yes a clinically strange thing to talk about on coffee break but like I said traffic fascinates meWhen I saw this book and especially when I started to read it I thought I was in Heaven A book that spoke to this bizarre side of me that I never knew was shared by anyone else As I made my way through the book a lot of that hope and promise vanished however Aside from the fact that about a third of the book is taken up with acknowledgments and references seriously I never really felt that it used all that research all that effectively The conclusions that were drawn never really clicked with me For example the author goes on at length about why it's a good idea to be a late merger on the highway when there's an upcoming lane drop He prattles on about late mergers just being economical about the road using as much as there is instead of choking up another lane by merging early I never really understood that and the argument fell short of being convincing Another example was that the courtesy wave letting someone pass turn ahead of you or merge into the lane was some evolutionary carryover from caveman days that has roots in being nice to people for reasons of not wanting to be wonked over the head with a club In other words it's an instinct that bears no relevance in today's world but is merely an echo of a time and has no bearing on present situations like you know just being nice or something These are merely two examples in pretty long line of unconvincing and poorly supported conclusionsBy the end my worst fears about the book were realized when I had to admit that it was really not much than an extended magazine article Like the immortal Ambrose Bierce said The covers of this book are too far apart