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Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says about Us)by Tom Vanderbilt
Synopses & Reviews
Tom Vanderbilt is one of our best and most interesting writers, with an extraordinary knack for looking at everyday life and explaining, in wonderful and entertaining detail, how it really works. That's never been more true than with Traffic, where he takes a subject that we all deal with (and worry about), and lets us see it through new eyes. In the process, he helps us understand better not just the highway, but the world. It doesn't matter whether you drive or take the bus--you're going to want to read this book.
--James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds
A great, deep, multidisciplinary investigation of the dynamics and the psychology of traffic jams. It is fun to read. Anyone who spends more than 19 minutes a day in traffic should read this book.
--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author The Black Swan
Fascinating, illuminating, and endlessly entertaining as well. Vanderbilt shows how a sophisticated understanding of human behavior can illuminate one of the modern world's most basic and most mysterious endeavors. You'll learn a lot; and the life you save may be your own.
--Cass R. Sunstein, coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Everyone who drives--and many people who don't--should read this book. It is a psychology book, a popular science book, and a how-to-save-your-life manual, all rolled into one. I found it gripping and fascinating from the very beginning to the very end.
--Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist
Fresh and timely . . . Vanderbilt investigates how human nature has shaped traffic, and vice versa, finally answering drivers' most familiar and frustrating questions.
Fluently written and oddly entertaining, full of points to ponder while stuck at the on-ramp meter or an endless red light.--Kirkus
This may be the most insightful and comprehensive study ever done of driving behavior and how it reveals truths about the types of people we are.--Booklist
Tom Vanderbilt uncovers a raft of counterintuitive facts about what happens when we get behind the wheel, and why.--BusinessWeek
Fascinating . . . Could not come at a better time.
From the Hardcover edition.
An intriguing study of the mysteries of the road analyzes the complex social, physical, psychological, and technical factors that dictate how traffic works, why we drive the way we do, and what our driving reveals about us, discussing the unintended consequences of attempts to engineer safety, why plans to protect pedestrians can lead to more accidents, and more. 150,000 first printing.
A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year
The Washington Post -The Cleveland Plain-Dealer - Rocky Mountain News
In this brilliant, lively, and eye-opening investigation, Tom Vanderbilt examines theperceptual 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 more accidents. He uncovers who is more likely to honkat 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.Traffic is about more than driving: it's about human nature. It will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us, and it may even make us betterdrivers.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Tom Vanderbilt writes about design, technology, science, and culture for Wired, Slate, The New York Times, and many other publications. He lives in Brooklyn and drives a 2001 Volvo V40.
Table of Contents
Why I became a late merger (and why you should too) — Why does the other lane always seem faster? How traffic messes with our heads — Shut up, I can't hear you: anonymity, aggression, and the problems of communicating while driving — Are you lookin' at me? Eye contact, stereotypes, and social interaction on the road — Waiting in line, waiting in traffic: why the other lane always moves faster — Postscript: and now, the secrets of late merging revealed — Why you're not as good a driver as you think you are — If driving is so easy, why is it so hard for a robot? What teaching machines to drive teaches us about driving — How's my driving? How the hell should I know? Why lack of feedback fails us on the road — How our eyes and minds betray us on the road — Keep your mind on the road: why it's so hard to pay attention in traffic — Objects in traffic are more complicated than they appear: how our driving eyes deceive us — Why ants don't get into traffic jams (and humans do): cooperation as a cure for congestion — Meet the world's best commuter: what we can learn from ants, locusts, and crickets — Playing God in Los Angeles — When slower is faster, or, How the few defeat the many: traffic flow and human nature — Why women cause more congestion than men (and other secrets of traffic) — Who are all these people? The psychology of commuting — The parking problem: why we are inefficient parkers and how this causes congestion — Why more roads lead to more traffic (and what to do about it) — The selfish commuter — A few Mickey Mouse solutions to the traffic problem — When dangerous roads are safer — The highway conundrum: how drivers adapt to the road they see — The trouble with traffic signs--and how getting rid of them would be better for everyone — Forgiving roads or permissive roads? The fatal flaws of traffic engineering — How traffic explains the world: on driving with a local accent — "Good brakes, good horn, good luck!": plunging into the maelstrom of Delhi traffic — Why New Yorkers jaywalk (and why they don't in Copenhagen): traffic as culture — Danger: corruption ahead--the secret indicator of crazy traffic — Why you shouldn't drive with a beer-drinking divorced doctor named Fred on Super Bowl Sunday in a pickup truck in rural Montana: what's risky on the road and why — Semiconscious fear: how we misunderstand the risks of the road — Should I stay or should I go? Why risk on the road is so complicated — The risks of safety — Driving lessons.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Engineering » Civil Engineering » Highway and Traffic