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Traffic why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us) by Tom Vanderbilt

 

trafficbookBy Vanderbilt’s definition, I am an “extreme commuter”. I commute 2 hours, everyday, for over 12 years. That’s roughly 6,000 hours or the equivalent of 3 years of 40 hours work weeks battling traffic and sitting in traffic jams. Naturally, I was drawn to this book.

I did have concerns that the book could be dreadfully boring. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how Vanderbilt kept my interest; I couldn’t put the book down. He does a stunning job of reducing decades of research into a 286 page book.

The book is not just on traffic congestion. It discusses at length issues of engineering, driver psychology, and traffic issues world wide. Instead of summarizing what the book is about, it may be better to list some of the questions/topics addressed by Vanderbilt:

  • Does everyone going slower gets us all there faster?
  • Would roads be safer without street signs?
  • Why are Pintos are less likely to honk at BMW’s? Why are convertibles are less likely to honk at Pintos?
  • Why do studies show that bicyclists are safer when they do not wear helmets and avoid bicycle lanes?
  • Why we would be safer if roads were be engineered to make us feel unsafe?

One fascinating topic that Vanderbilt tackles is traffic in India. See the following youtube video

How can this be organized? Is this safer than our streets? You will have to read the book.

NYTimesBookReviewThe New York Times Book Review said this book should be required reading for all drivers. I totally agree. It was very interesting and educational. This book is NOT available at the Clarksville/Montgomery County Public Library. I purchased from a local bookstore for $16.00. I have seen copies as low as $11.00 at Amazon.com.

Now, if I could only somehow get a discount on my car insurance for being a better informed driver… or just get every other Clarksville to Nashville commuter to go out and read this book.

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