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

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt
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's review
Feb 19, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2009, favorites

Who knew that traffic could be so interesting? This book was packed full of information and statistics about driving habits around the world. Here are a few of the things that I learned:

* Driving is the most dangerous thing that we do every day.

* Although there are driving laws pretty much everywhere, there is a large difference in the compliance of those laws. For example, in the United States, there is a very high rate of obedience with the driving laws; in many third-world countries, however, the laws are rarely obeyed, and you'll get nowhere if you try to abide by them.

* There is a link between low GDP and traffic fatalities throughout the world; corrupt leaders also show a correlation with poor traffic safety.

* Every driver thinks that he/she is an above-average driver, which can lead to aggressive driving.

* Collisions are rarely "accidents;" most are in the driver's power to prevent.

* We are blind to things that we are not looking for, which accounts for so many collisions with pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles.

* People are very bad at judging the speed of oncoming objects.

* Roundabouts are actually safer than a traditional intersection; part of their safety is due to the perception that they are more dangerous, and thus people drive through them more cautiously.

* The more segregation between "traffic areas" and "pedestrian areas," the more dangerous it is for everyone.

* "Sign fatigue" is a huge contributor to accidents involving construction workers. People get so used to seeing signs day after day with no workers, no cops, no issues, etc., that they eventually stop paying attention to them altogether.

* Roads with fewer signs and more confusing signals are safer, because people pay more attention to what is going on.

* SUV & pick-up truck drivers speed more than anyone else, in part because they feel safer in their vehicles, but also because the perception of speed is lessened in these vehicles.

* Safety devices have not made in significant impact in reducing traffic fatalities over the past 50 years. The more safe the driver feels, the more risky his/her behavior.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, I recommend that you check out this book!

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