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Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) Paperback – Aug 11 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Aug. 11 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307397734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307397737
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 322 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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By Kate on Feb. 5 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was well researched and very interesting. I think everyone should read it and then reevaluate that way that they drive.
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Format: Hardcover
As some other reviews note, this book is sometimes superficial, sometimes not technical enough, sometimes glances over topics. Despite these flaws, I can highly recommend the book because it is chock-full of interesting information, and fun to read.
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Format: Paperback
This is quite a good read, explains a lot of the way traffic works and the way traffic engineers think. Very well organized and explained. Could go a bit further technically here and there.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 24 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever been stuck in traffic alone (and who hasn't been?), all kinds of thoughts have occurred to you about how poorly the highways are designed, why drivers are so inconsiderate, what else you would like to be doing, and how to get out of this mess! Since cell phones have arrived, I regularly receive calls from my wife and children while they are stuck in traffic hoping that I'll have some suggestions for them. Tom Vanderbilt takes that vague reactions and tests them out.

It turns out that driving isn't so natural for humans, and we don't always do it right. While we are unhappy about what others are doing, we overestimate the quality of our own driving.

Even though it's very difficult for a machine to learn to drive effectively, humans get to the point where they drive without paying attention. There's a price to pay: Make the road too boring, and some people will fall asleep until awakened by a rumble strip or they crash into an immovable object such as a tree.

It turns out we lose a lot of our humanity when we drive on good roads at high speed. It's all about us then. Slow things down enough and surround us with easy ways to hurt other people, and we look people in the eye and act like a good neighbor.

The most amazing parts of the book explore ways that attempts by traffic engineers to make roads safer and to carry more traffic have backfired. The engineers, it seems, think we are rationally moving objects rather than people who like to drive around a little to get a change of pace in our lives.

He also tests out some basic subjects where there's wide disagreement, such as, should you merge as soon as possible when a lane is being dropped . . . or speed along in the closed lane until the last minute?
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Pierre Gauthier TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 26 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book's premise is fascinating: why do so many civilized, polite human beings become selfish and aggressive as soon as they sit behind a driving wheel?

One could expect the author to have fresh and encompassing views on the topic as he is a journalist and not a specialist in psychology or transportation science.

Unfortunately, despite some enlightening tidbits, the book is marred with an anecdotal approach that borders often on superficiality.

Though lively, the writing style is convoluted and it is often difficult to grasp the points the author aims to make.

Sadly, possibly due to lack of time to complete the research and polish the rendering, the goods promised are not delivered.
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