Grace's Reviews > Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt
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's review
Dec 13, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: cultural-studies, non-fiction, psychology, science-brain, read-in-2009
Read in December, 2009

I had no idea that a 286 page book on traffic could be so riveting. Tom Vanderbilt's "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About us)" is a entertaining joyride through the world of traffic and driving here in America as well as all over the world.

Let's face it: traffic is a big part of our daily lives. As soon as we climb into the driver's seat, shut the door, and turn the key into the ignition of our cars, we become different people and different rules seem to apply. We also think we have everything under control as we multitask - changing the radio station, chatting away on our cell phones or sending texts and e-mails from Blackberrys. We also think that we are safer on roads than we really are as many of the 'road truths' we hold to be correct are really false, such as that roundabouts are safer than intersections.

Tom Vanderbilt sheds light on traffic misconceptions, our behaviors behind the wheel (the classic early or late merger debate); who causes more congestion - men or women; who is more likely to die in a fatal crash - men or women; how all the limousines for the Oscars manage to get to the Oscars around the same time, even though they have to fight through LA traffic; how we are inefficient parkers; which leads to congestion, and the correlations between traffic fatalities and the GDP and transparency ratings of various nations.

This book will definitely make you think about your driving habits and your commute to work, school, the grocery store, etc. It's more than just traffic - it's a symbol of who we are as people and a culture. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to understand something that is usually forgotten as soon as we park our cars.

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