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Paperback Traffic : Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says about Us) Book

ISBN: 0307277194

ISBN13: 9780307277190

Traffic : Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says about Us)

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Book Overview

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 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 more accidents. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom,...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

When a road is once built, it is a strange thing how it collects traffic - Robert Louis Stevenson

A wonderful book confirming all the suspicions we have had for years: 'The things that work best in the traffic world of the highway - consistency, uniformity, wide lanes, knowing what to expect ahead of time, the reduction of conflicts, the restriction of access, and the removal of obstacles - have little or no place in the social world.' Tom Vanderbilt explains in a sensible and humourous language why traffic is so bad for us and what we can do about it. The book is based on several investigations and sources supporting the view that driving can be improved with a little sense both from drivers but certainly also from politicians. Especially the chapter about roadbuilding leading to more traffic ought to be obligatory reading for any politician who may wish to build a highway or a bridge in order to improve traffic. The Fatal Flaws of Traffic Engineering is yet another chapter recommendable to the men and women in charge of traffic. The book also informs us about the main charactheristic of the ordinary driver: Selfishness. Actually, it is proven that if another driver is waiting to get your parking space you will be slower to leave it! Besides, about 80% of all drivers find that their driving is above average! According to the book as well as the references therein the driver personality is partly based on self deception thus providing good explanation for our embarrasing high numbers of accidents. Vanderbilt also mentions the impact on house prices, health and environment and suggest more methods to reduce traffic. Perhaps one should send it to the Government for Christmas.

You are not as good a driver as you think you ae

A fascinating and eye-opening look at the reasons behind the ways we drive. You may not be as good a driver as you think you are, and this book will tell you why. Written in an entertaining style, but with full documentation and endnotes for those who need more

For Every Driver

This book delves deeply into the psychology of driving. Vanderbilt touches on just about every aspect of driving, so to mention one part of the book would do injustice to the book as a whole. It certainly is a highly entertaining and insightful read and has provided me with much more knowledge of driving. Having previously thought that I was a great driver, like most Americans, I reevaluated my driving and have become much more conscientious and aware. In short: READ THIS!

Inside the Driver's Brain

Driving, at least in America, is an activity that is oddly personal. Our cars, the way we drive, how we handle bad traffic, are so much a part of ourselves, that we bristle, or worse, when someone criticizes our choice of car, the way we drive, or our behavior in traffic. When I read several (professional) reviews of Traffic, it was hard to believe that they were all about the same book. The reviews seemed to reflect the personalities, the insecurities, the preferences of the reviewers. I was learning more about the reviewers than about the book. Then when I'd read the book, I found that the parts that stuck with me had not been mentioned in any of the reviews I'd seen. For instance, I was fascinated to read about "Sabbath Timing" of traffic lights at some 75 Los Angeles intersections. From sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday every week, and on certain holidays, they are programmed to flash the walk signal every signal rotation, whether anyone presses the button or not. This is so the orthodox Jews in those neighborhoods cross the streets without pressing the button, which would be against the rule not to use any machines. The city planners considered an alternate solution that would use sensors to detect if a pedestrian was waiting to cross the street, but consultations with local rabbis determined that that would not be in keeping with the restriction. Another tidbit: all drivers believe they are better than average. Not surprising actually, but still interesting. A factoid that applies to more than just traffic: most people prefer one long line rather than many short lines, such as that at Wendy's vs. the lines at McDonald's, even if the wait is longer with the long line. We like the "social justice" of the single line, in which no one can pick the "right" line and be served ahead of those who waited longer in the slower lines. Traffic is a thoroughly-researched book with lots of data and over a hundred pages of end notes and index. Vanderbilt knows his traffic. But so do we. So here are my own observations about traffic. I spent many years commuting to work in the Bay Area, a 140-mile round trip, on several different shifts, and including right after the Loma Prieta Earthquake, when the Bay Bridge, a critical portion of my commute, was being repaired after a large section fell into the Bay. In all the years spent commuting, the traffic did not strike me as being especially idiosyncratic. It was awful and I hated it, but it seemed no worse or better than most places. Las Vegas, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. The drivers here have a real "double or nothing" mentality. I quickly learned to hurry through all yellow lights and to check the rear view mirror before stopping at red lights. The alternative was to be rear-ended. Avoid the temptation (difficult in Las Vegas) to make quick starts when the light turns green. Wait for at least two more cars to go through the intersection and check to see if anyone else
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