Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do

February 9, 2009
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Traffic is an anomaly that we have all experienced in our lives, it's unavoidable. Traffic on the complex system of roadways that connect America has introduced surprising psychological effects on the minds of Americans. Cars have been around for nearly a century and major roadways (such as freeways, highways, ect.) have been around since the end of WWII, but there is surprising little research done on the effects of these transportation breakthroughs, until recently. Experts say that this is because unlike the television, traffic doesn't appear to have any apparent connection to the human mind, but now psychologist and sociologist alike have noted the changes in behavior that occur when humans step behind the wheel of their vehicles.


Traffic is a collection of findings from the most respect and experienced in the fields of psychology, sociology, and roadway construction and planning. The book, I've noticed, becomes very repetitive when relating to the findings of Tom Vanderbilt, the author of the book, because he renews his basic point throughout the book just from different perspectives. It is very insightful of Mr. Vanderbilt to presents his argument in such a way, because it shows the reader how complex of an argument it really is. He is also giving the reader plenty of verity on the subject about traffic, instead of talking about traffic itself for two hundred pages he takes the reader through the progression of what it does, how it affects us in a number of ways, and what this says about us as a society. He'll answer these questions about any number of situations ranging from 'why ants don't get into traffic jam (and humans do)' to 'Why you shouldn't drive with a beer-drinking divorced doctor named Fred on Super Bowl Sunday in a pick truck in rural Montana: what's risky on the road and why.' Even when he does this throughout each chapter of the book, they are all connected to his basic argument. Tom Vanderbilt conveys a profound and insight read that will make any driver think twice about his actions on the roadway.





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