Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
On Sale: July 29, 2008
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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
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.
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