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Publisher's Summary

Driving is a fact of life. We are all spending more and more time on the road, and traffic is an issue we face everyday. This audiobook will make you think about it in a whole new light.

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 Books on Tape

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Driving Towards Traffic

"Traffic" freaked me out. I knew that 40,000 people died each year on our roads. And I knew that a car accident was the most likely way that trauma would encroach into my world. Vanderbilt gives me lots more things to worry about (like Dr's have the 2nd highest accident rate, pick-up trucks are dangerous to everyone else, new cars have higher accident rates then older cars, and intersections are bad news for bikers, runners, and drivers.

This is a book I'd like my girls to read as a prerequisite to getting their license (and I'll install the driver cam that Vanderbilt writes about being effective in teaching young drivers defensive skills).

Read the book. Slow down on the roads.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Stefan
  • Arlington, VA, USA
  • 10-10-08

Thumbs up. May not be for everyone.

You know, I'd have to disagree with the first member review.

I purchased this audio book to take a break from science fiction and I blazed through this book while... listening to traffic. Yes, the author does present a lot of various studies and data, but he manages to put everything into a sort of context that progresses smoothly. Heck - he's even able to make a joke every once in a while.

He presents different aspects of traffic: psychology, sociology, traffic engineering, safety devices, etc. All these various topics seem to merge together in the final conclusion, no pun intended. So, I think in the end, you have to be able to tolerate through a lot of numbers, so to speak, otherwise I'm sure you might get kind of lost in the presentation of the material. If you don't care about understanding the various mechanisms in traffic, you're not going to get anything out of this book.

I did really enjoy this book - a lot of the topics I found personally interesting and I walked away with a slightly different perspective of the world around me.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting Content, Well Narrated

While this book may not have all of the answers, it is far more thoughtful and thorough than some of the reviewers let on. I read/listen to mostly science books and biographies, but I got this book on a whim and was pleasantly surprised.

The author is philosophical and witty, and is rarely patronizing or redundant. The content flows nicely and the narration is spot on - making it well suited for the audio format. If you are looking for a good audiobook that is a change of pace from your typical genre, give this book a try.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting Read

This book does have a lot of statistics but it organizes them around certain themes to make them more comprehensible. I found it very interesting. It made me look at driving differently. Hopefully it made me a better driver. Certainty a better educated one. I thought the narration was very good.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tim Hibbetts
  • All over the United States... and the world.
  • 04-09-09

Fascinating

This is a book about human nature wrapped in the bacon strips of purposeful motion. You do need to be interested in how and why things work, but if you are, this book is chock full of delicious tidbits that make you really want to send it to your local DoT. Regardless, there are a multitude of those moments when you either see yourself or someone you know (or if you're listening on the road, someone you're watching). This book should be mandatory reading in every drivers' ed class.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Play at 1.25x. It's more tolerable.

Well researched and interesting info. The reader's cadence is too short so it's better to play it at a faster speed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Peter
  • WASHINGTON, DC, United States
  • 08-21-12

Fascinating

What did you love best about Traffic?

This book drew my attention to all sorts of aspects of traffic that I had never thought of: most dangerous moves at an intersection, when to merge, why straight roads should have some curves, etc.

What did you like best about this story?

Vanderbilt does a great job of tying together a bunch of distinct studies and aspects of traffic. Also, Vanderbilt does a great job of defining technical terms so the reader can keep up with the engineering.

Any additional comments?

The narrator is easy to understand, and is easy to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

surprisingly great

I never knew traffic could be so interesting! My brother suggested this book, but he's weird, so I was skeptical. Despite my hesitation, it was really fantastic, delving into more psychology and sociology than I had expected. Thank god for nerds who can make topics so interesting.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

why driving is so frustrating

a thorough validation of all my cursing. all the reasons most humans SHOULD NOT DRIVE. unfortunately there are no solutions.

  • Overall
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  • Story
  • Carolyn
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 12-20-17

Thorough and Interesting Look at Driving Behaviour

This book covers a significant amount of detail about driving behaviour and traffic outcomes from that behaviour. It is more about human behaviour and psychology than traffic engineering and it takes a wide, international view on approaches to solving traffic problems, including considerable historical context. I found it very interesting, with a wide range of topics and well-researched answers to questions about how to be safe on the road, including input from many experts in the field. It presents safety data without being preachy, and it maintains the relatable style of a non-expert while providing the largely non-judgmental approach of a sociologist.

This book was engaging to listen to despite the amount of statistics and numbers involved. Although the conversational, personal style of the author helps provide that feel, the narration also was well-done and contributed to keeping me listening for extended periods at a time.

Overall, this book is thorough in its depth and a good mix of reinforcement of common sense and surprising results of studies on driving behaviour. It is a little dated on its discussion of self-driving cars, which have become significantly more sophisticated since the book was written, but otherwise it is relevant and modern. I would recommend it to anyone interested in human behaviour, especially if, like me, you listen to audiobooks while sitting in stop-and-go gridlock on your commute every day.