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Traffic
Tom Vanderbilt

Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

Knopf
August 2008
On Sale: July 29, 2008
416 pages
ISBN: 0307264785
EAN: 9780307264787
Hardcover
$24.95
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Non-Fiction

Would you be surprised that road rage can be good for society? Or that most crashes happen on sunny, dry days? That our minds can trick us into thinking the next lane is moving faster? Or that you can gauge a nationís driving behavior by its levels of corruption? These are only a few of the remarkable dynamics that Tom Vanderbilt explores in this fascinating tour through the mysteries of the road.

Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe, Traffic gets under the hood of the everyday activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological, and technical factors that explain how traffic works, why we drive the way we do, and what our driving says about us. Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He shows how roundabouts, which can feel dangerous and chaotic, actually make roads saferóand reduce traffic in the bargain. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots.

The car has long been a central part of American life; whether we see it as a symbol of freedom or a symptom of sprawl, we define ourselves by what and how we drive. As Vanderbilt shows, driving is a provocatively revealing prism for examining how our minds work and the ways in which we interact with one another. Ultimately, Traffic is about more than driving: itís about human nature. This book will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us. And who knows? It may even make us better drivers.

Media Buzz

Good Morning America - February 8, 2009
Talk of the Nation - November 26, 2008
Marketplace - PRI - August 26, 2008
Talk of the Nation - August 8, 2008
Today - July 29, 2008
Fresh Air - NPR - July 28, 2008

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