08/09/08 217 W - + 9 - 10 "Traffic" by Tom Vanderbilt

Haven't read the book, but have read the New York Times book review. Sounds like a must read, Traffic, Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us), by Tom Vanderbilt. Click that link to Amazon to also read an interview the author. Mary Roach's book review quotes a number of fascinating observations by Vanderbilt. Modern collisions are caused-- well, one of the reasons-- because people judge their driving skills based on the number of crashes they've experienced, versus those they've narrowly avoided. Thus, everyone thinks they're a better driver than they really are. Then there's the problem, Ms. Roach notes of Mr. Vanderbilt, that driving rarely commands 100 percent of our attention, so everyone does something else while driving1. Thus the reason so many accidents happen, writes Vanderbilt, on dry roads, on clear, sunny days, to sober drivers." Feeling safe kills, as the reviewer writes. Ditto, she adds, why Vanderbilt writes about SUVs being that much more dangerous than cars, as drivers feel that much safer, which begets more careless behavior. Fascinating stuff, just from the review! Can't wait to read the book.

1Who wants to be first, and admit some of their regular behind-the-wheel activites that do not involve steering, speed control, or watching for other idiots?

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