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

Audiobook CD - 2008
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Analyzes the complex social, physical, psychological, and technical factors that dictate how traffic works, why we drive the way we do, and what our driving reveals about us, discussing the unintended consequences of attempts to engineer safety
Publisher: New York : Random House Audio, c2008
ISBN: 9780739370322
Branch Call Number: CD 629.283 Vand
Characteristics: 5 sound discs (6 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in
Additional Contributors: Slavin, David - Performer


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librarylizzard Jul 30, 2015

This was an interesting book to listen to in the car.. It sheds light on some of the reasons why we drive the way we do (dangerously, most of the time). Topics include: Why it seems the other lane is always going faster than yours, why people feel that safety rules (ie. drinking/texting bans) apply to everyone but them, and why adding more lanes does not necessarily ease congestion. Not all of my burning driving related questions were answered, but this was jam packed of interesting and useful info that made me look at my fellow drivers in a new light.

Mar 16, 2012

Note to the audiobook users: Be careful listening to a book on traffic while in traffic! You may find many of the insights a little too close to home.

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt takes a closer look at a phenomenon of modern living we're all familiar with and one that we all think (secretly, at least) we're better at handling than our peers. The way we drive is selfish, inefficient and messy and yet there is a certain ease and harmony to it which is why it is still the most preferred form of travel.

The most compelling argument in this book is what I'll call "The Congestion Tax" or simply charging drivers for the privilege for using the most traveled roads. I've seen this argument in other forms (a carbon tax, for instance) and it is so compelling because there's an excellent case for both sides. The pros: Congestion would be eliminated, daily commute times would improve and fuel use per car would on average decrease. The cons: It's a regressive tax on the poorer auto users, it would be politically unpopular to enact and many would see it as a moral assault to our way of life which views roads as a shared public space freely accessible to all.

As modern progress goes, traffic will only grow larger and more complex. A universal network of toll roads is probably inevitable. It's a common contradiction that most of us view traffic as what other drivers cause and not what we ourselves are a part of too.


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