We have always had a passion for cars and driving. Now Traffic offers us an exceptionally rich understanding of that passion. Vanderbilt explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our attempts to engineer safety, and even identifies the most common mistakes drivers make in parking lots. Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe, Traffic gets under the hood of the quotidian activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological and technical factors that explain how traffic works.
©2008 Tom Vanderbilt; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
This book takes an analytical look at modern driving and why we do the things we do. It looks how and why roads are planned the way they are, the way that people drive and its effects, and how we are going have to adapt as roads become busier.
I found it an interesting listen. However there were a couple of points that are worth noting. The first is the author's interpretation of some of the data. As an example, his interpretation of the difference between late and early mergers, in my opinion, did not mesh in my mind with the description quoted from the studies that he references. Although, mostly the author does seem to be basing his conclusions on careful analysis.
The second is that, despite stating otherwise in the audio, the book concerns itself mostly with the US. Data and statistics are included for other countries, but the meat of the analysis is often specific to US roads and driving practices (as someone who has driven for over 20 years in over a dozen different countries, I feel that I can comment on this, and road layouts and driver 'norms' do vary significantly from one country to the next), making some of the topics irrelevant for non-US drivers. Examples of this would be accident statistics, models of cars, planning examples, which are almost exclusively from the US.
However, on the whole, the book was informative and entertaining. The quality of the audio and editing was good.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book. As a recovering driver who now uses almost exclusively mass transit I wasn't sure if this would apply to me. In reality, it was a very balanced look at our roads and all the associated issues and problems from all vantage points: rational drivers and those with road rage, mass transit, parking, engineering, car racing, etc. Even though I consider myself fairly well informed about planning issues, I learned a lot and highly recommend the book. The type of information included in this book can also make our road safer and voters/taxpayers better informed.
Book does a good job of filling us in on a wide range of data points about driving and traffic. Helps us understand the why behind how roads and highways are designed. Be ready for some interesting observations that are counterintuitive. Narration was first rate.
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