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Download Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) Audiobook, by Tom Vanderbilt Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.91 out of 53.91 out of 53.91 out of 53.91 out of 53.91 out of 5 3.91 (34 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tom Vanderbilt Narrator: David Slavin Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2008 ISBN: 9780739370339
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Driving is a fact of life. We are all spending more and more time on the road, and traffic is an issue we face every day. This audiobook will make you think about it in a whole new light.

We have always had a passion for cars and driving. Now Traffic offers us an exceptionally rich understanding of that passion. Vanderbilt explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our attempts to engineer safety, and even identifies the most common mistakes drivers make in parking lots. Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe, Traffic gets under the hood of the quotidian activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological, and technical factors that explain how traffic works.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Traffic gets about as close to the heart of modern existence as any book could get . . . Engagingly written, meticulously researched, endlessly interesting and informative, [it] is one of those rare books that comes out of the depths of nowhere. Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
  • A surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of human beings behind the steering wheels . . . Jammed with delicious you’ve-got-to-be-kidding moments . . . My solution to the nation’s vehicular woes would be to make this good book required reading for anyone applying for a driver’s license. Mary Roach, The New York Times Book Review
  • Smart and comprehensive . . . A shrewd tour of the much-experienced but little-understood world of driving . . . A balanced and instructive discussion on how to improve our policies toward the inexorable car . . . Vanderbilt’s book is likely to remain relevant well into the new century. Edward L. Glaeser, The New Republic
  • A delightful tour through the mysteries and manners of driving. Tony Dokoupil, Newsweek
  • A breezy . . . well-researched . . . examination of the strange interaction of humanity and multiton metal boxes that can roar along at . . . 60 m.p.h. or sit for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune
  • Traffic will definitely change the way you think about driving, which also means changing the way you think about being human. Michael Agger, Slate
  • [A] joyride in the often surprising landscape of traffic science and psychology. Abigail Tucker, Smithsonian Magazine
  • Tom Vanderbilt is one of our best and most interesting writers, with an extraordinary knack for looking at everyday life and explaining, in wonderful and entertaining detail, how it really works. That's never been more true than with Traffic, where he takes a subject that we all deal with (and worry about), and lets us see it through new eyes. In the process, he helps us understand better not just the highway, but the world. It doesn't matter whether you drive or take the bus--you're going to want to read this book. James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds
  • A great, deep, multidisciplinary investigation of the dynamics and the psychology of traffic jams. It is fun to read. Anyone who spends more than 19 minutes a day in traffic should read this book. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author The Black Swan
  • Fascinating, illuminating, and endlessly entertaining as well. Vanderbilt shows how a sophisticated understanding of human behavior can illuminate one of the modern world's most basic and most mysterious endeavors. You'll learn a lot; and the life you save may be your own. Cass R. Sunstein, coauthor of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
  • Everyone who drives--and many people who don't--should read this book. It is a psychology book, a popular science book, and a how-to-save-your-life manual, all rolled into one. I found it gripping and fascinating from the very beginning to the very end. Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist
  • Fascinating, surprising . . . Vanderbilt’s book will be a revelation not just to us drivers but also, one might guess, to our policy makers. Alan Moores, The Seattle Times
  • A well-written, important book that should hold the interest of anyone who drives a car. Dennis Lythgoe, Deseret News
  • An engaging, sociable tour of all things driving-related. Joel Rice, The Tennessean
  • Manages to be downright fun. Dennis Simanaitis, Road and Track
  • Intriguing . . . Somehow manages to plunge far more deeply than one would imagine a meditation on travel possibly could. Perhaps without intending to, Vanderbilt has narrowed in on the central question of our time . . . His book asks us to consider how we can persuade human beings to behave more cooperatively than selfishly. Elaine Margolin, The Denver Post
  • Vanderbilt investigates . . . complexities with zeal. Surprising details abound. The New Yorker
  • Fresh and timely . . . Vanderbilt investigates how human nature has shaped traffic, and vice versa, finally answering drivers' most familiar and frustrating questions. Publishers Weekly
  • Fluently written and oddly entertaining, full of points to ponder while stuck at the on-ramp meter or an endless red light. Kirkus
  • "This may be the most insightful and comprehensive study ever done of driving behavior and how it reveals truths about the types of people we are. Booklist
  • Tom Vanderbilt uncovers a raft of counterintuitive facts about what happens when we get behind the wheel, and why. BusinessWeek 
  • Fascinating . . . Could not come at a better time. Library Journal
  • An engaging, informative, psychologically savvy account of the conscious and unconscious assumptions of individual drivers–and the variations in ‘car culture’ around the world . . . Full of fascinating facts and provocative propositions. Glenn Altschuler, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • An engrossing tour through the neuroscience of highway illusions, the psychology of late merging, and other existential driving dilemmas. Michael Mason, Discover

    “Funny . . . Enlightening . . . Want to spend 286 pages having a good time and learning a whole lot about something you do every day for an hour or two? Buy this book.
  • I’m very glad I read this book . . . It tells you a lot about traffic. But of course it does more than this. It’s really a book about human nature. William Leith, Evening Standard (UK)
  • A richly extended metaphor for the challenge of organising competing human needs and imperfect human judgment into harmonious coexistence. Rafael Behr, The Guardian (UK)
  • Traffic changes the way you think about driving. For that reason alone, it deserves your attention. Dan Danbom, Rocky Mountain News
  • Automobile traffic is one of the most studied phenomena in advanced societies . . . Mr. Vanderbilt has mastered all of it. Arresting facts appear on every page. Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times (UK)

  • “Brisk . . . Smart . . . Delivers a wealth of automotive insights both curious and counterintuitive. Details
  • A literate, sobering look at our roadways that explains why the other lane is moving faster and why you should never drive at 1 p.m. on Saturday. GQ
  • One of the 2008 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Renee | 2/16/2014

    " clever writing but i will agree with the other reviewers that said this should be a shorter book and feels a little stuffed with facts that I was interested in the beginning but became monotonous as the book progressed. I read the first 100 or so and skimmed the rest, but it is that kind of book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Corey | 2/15/2014

    " funny and thought-provoking exploration of human behavior as it applies to driving "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wanda | 2/8/2014

    " This book has a lot of really interesting facts on how and why traffic flows, or not. How street design truly affects the way we drive... just so many facinating things that we either take for granted or don't even think about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katherine | 2/5/2014

    " Loved it! A great, fun, engaging perspective on something we do every day, yet know so little about (in the scheme of things). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan Kenkel | 2/4/2014

    " Listened to this while on a couple of long trips to Michigan. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jackie | 1/21/2014

    " You had to know there was a reason why everyone drives like an asshole at one point or another! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig Shore | 1/19/2014

    " Being a truck driver, I was excited to read this and hopefully gain a better understanding of why people drive the way they do. In this book filled with tons of research studies, facts, and figures, the author turns our normal idea of whats safe on the roads on it's head, explaining why wider stretches of insterstate are more dangerous than small roads through the middle of towns, and why road signs actually make our roads less safe. I really enjoyed reading this and I think everyone should read this book, it will really open your eyes and make you a better driver. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Marie | 1/14/2014

    " This was absolutely fascinating. I started driving more slowly and now am a fan of metered entering of freeways and toll roads. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrice | 1/1/2014

    " I wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy a book on the study of traffic patterns.... I can't say that I'm a better driver as a result of this book, but I'm certainly more aware of my surroundings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristen Britt | 12/22/2013

    " An interesting look at traffic and its relation to our lives on the road. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Schau | 11/14/2013

    " A readable look at driving behavior, traffic and other related matters. You think you are a good driver? After reading this, you may be surprised. Thougtful reading "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jonathan | 11/12/2013

    " I've always been fascinated by traffic so I thought this would be an interesting read. It wasn't. It would have made a great magazine article, but as a book it just wasn't very well written or organized. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh Liller | 10/17/2013

    " Fun, informative, and sometimes surprising book about driving and traffic. Things are not quite as you think they might be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 9/9/2013

    " While the subject may seem a bit mundane, I found the book an interesting look at human nature. Similar to a Malcolm Gladwell book, it provides insight into why we do what we do. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexa | 7/16/2013

    " So interesting and informative, but it left me with even more questions. I would read 200 more pages of this book, if they existed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Otter | 4/17/2013

    " interesting toughts about the way we drive, build our roads and cities "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 9/1/2012

    " This should, and I am entirely serious, be required reading for everyone who drives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 8/15/2012

    " Very interesting. We listened while traveling. Thanks Scott H for the recommendation. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marjorie | 4/27/2012

    " This book should have been more interesting than it was - the writing was sort of lackluster, I guess, so even though the subject matter was extremely interesting to me I found myself hurrying through it...too bad - seems like a wasted opportunity "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Martin Stein | 8/26/2011

    " Very good. Roundabouts are good, merging is best done late in one location. Great book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ari | 8/14/2011

    " It's a nice breezy read. But it's a little bit too Malcom-Gladwellish. You get the sense a lot that the author doesn't quite understand the stuff he's explaining. Lots of quotes from scientists instead of prose from the author. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle | 5/15/2011

    " Such a fun book. It takes an ordinary action we all take for granted and explains, in an entertaining way, the ways we are our true selves in traffic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 5/12/2011

    " At face value, you expect a book like this to be boring, stuffy, and bog you down with details. Instead, it's a fun read that keeps you hooked as you find out about our collective driving habits. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 5/6/2011

    " I listened to this book on CD, and when I got to the end (5 discs) I realized that I'd been listening to an abridged version. Bummer - it was always interesting, and I would have liked more of his insights and factoids. The science of figuring out traffic ad risk is fascinating, "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 5/3/2011

    " This book changed the way I drive. It was fascinating on so many levels. I highly recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexa | 4/25/2011

    " So interesting and informative, but it left me with even more questions. I would read 200 more pages of this book, if they existed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexa | 4/25/2011

    " So interesting and informative, but it left me with even more questions. I would read 200 more pages of this book, if they existed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbycoleman | 4/25/2011

    " VERY interesting book. Definately recommend it to anyone and everyone who has a driver's license. Give's insight into the thought process and decision-making that happens while driving/parking/merging and much more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kerem | 4/25/2011

    " Very interesting book with many facts people are either not aware or ignorant of. Nice comparisons between different countries, their cultures and how it affects traffic. A fun and easy read as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Du | 4/12/2011

    " Interesting read. Fun to read comments from someone that you have thought yourself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charity | 4/11/2011

    " A thinker. I find myself reflecting on this or bringing it up in conversations totally unrelated to traffic because it applies. There is a surprising amount to learn about human behavior/psychology from watching traffic patterns. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig | 4/5/2011

    " Fascinating and very in depth book. Gets pretty technical and was sometimes challenging to plow through, even for someone who works in this field. But very insightful. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 4/3/2011

    " If you want to know why you drive the way your drive its a good read. Lots of fun tidbits and an easy read. Anyone who likes books like Blink should enjoy this one as well "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yuri | 3/31/2011

    " A fascinating read about how and why we drive. Everybody who has ever been stuck in traffic should read this book. It should be a MUST READ for all traffic engineers, urban planners and city councillors. "

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About the Author

Tom Vanderbilt writes about design, technology, science and culture for Wired, Slate, the New York Times, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.