Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
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 oft ...more
I live in Los Angeles, and my daily commute subjects me to this city's infamous traffic. So why in the world would I want to read a book about traffic? After all, I live it every day. Well, whether you live in a crowded city or a small town off the interstate, Traffic turns out to be an interesting, worthwhile look at humans and their machines, what happens on the road, and why.
Traffic hooked me right off the bat with its provocative starting point: you're on the freeway in the right hand lane....more
That's the message I walked away from with this book. And it was a message that made me sit up and pay attention. Non-fiction is something I read sparingly. Something about long spans of data makes my mind drift off, so I'll realize I've read an entire page without actually absorbing anything. The fact that this book hooked me was rather surprising. A big part of it is the fact that Vanderbilt keeps the topics so pertinent to the nature of how we actually drive. It's an entir ...more
The most depressing chapters for me were in the first part of the book, when Vanderbilt describes the various una ...more
One element I disliked was the narrative voice. Much of the book is written in the first person plural, and many of the sentence structures are awkward. To wit: "So whether we're cocky, compensating for feeling fearful, or just plain clue ...more
A couple of salient points, for me, are the ideas ...more
Tom Vanderbilt should sue his editor. Mr. Vanderbilt obviously has voluminous knowledge on this subject but this is an endless ramble of facts, studies, insights and observations that not once; really, not one single time; is boiled up to a conclusion, an important trend or even a clear summary.
Believe me; I was eager to read this book. I drive ALL THE TIME and am very interested in why and how we perceive things on the road and what motivates ...more
But I may be a little biased toward liking anything about driving. I've always been a fan of the complexity in the subject, m ...more
There's actually a lot here that's really quite interesting--from factoids about how roads designed to make cars safer make drivers more aggressive and therefore increase the damage when cars do crash to comparisons between different countries' driving cultures, there's a lot to unpack. I think part of why I was less impressed than I expected is just that Va ...more
"We have met the enemy and he is us," Walt Kelly once famously penned, but on the road, it seems we fancy ourselves much better drivers than all those people we wish would go away -- the tailgaters or those who leave too much space between cars; the lane-changers or those who stubbornly sit in one lane; those who merge too ...more
While at times somewhat dry, mostly presented very well, with amusing asides and oft-frightening realizations. A book every driver should read!
I was happy to see that the author gave atten ...more
Driving enthusiasts, among whom I count myself, will find some challenging ideas in here. For instance, regarding the oft-repeated notion that speed variance, not speed itself, is a greater source of highway crashes, Vanderbilt supplies the missing ...more
Instead of anchoring to one or two sweeping conclusions (like Gladwell) and pressing into their service some interesting anecdotes, Vanderbilt goes into a dizzying array of factoids and stories about traffic without necessary trying to tie them all together. I ...more
This book discusses some of the fallacies, research, and physiology of driving and road planning. Some of the ideas:
- Much of the problem with road design is not the concrete or the cars – it is the people
- Merging – Late merger is more effective for throughput. Use both lanes and then zipper merge. Helps the whole system and you individually. Even if it seems unfair.
- Differential speed limits – i.e. h trucks are given a ...more
* The white dotted divider lines on freeway lanes are 10-15 feet in length. They look shorter because of an optical illusion caused by the speed of the car.
* We judge speed by the rate at which objects appear to increase in size and the distance at which we can make judgements about speed becomes shorter and shorter as speeds increase.
* The more dangerous a road *feels* the more safe it is in almost every instance.
* "risk homeostasis" - after making any aspect of driving safer, d ...more
Scores of si ...more
Looks like I'll have to do my own research. While Vanderbilt somewhat succeeds at relaying the history of traffic and how certain esoteric drivin ...more
The book as a whole has no coherent theme, no overall message, no driving purpose. It is a collec ...more