Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and what it Says about Us)

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Why does the other lane always seem to be moving faster? Why are people so different inside their cars than they are outside them? Is traffic a microcosm of society, or does the road make its own rules? Traffic speaks volumes: it brings together people from every walk of life and, in this hugely enjoyable, curiosity-filled book, Tom Vanderbilt explains why traffic problems are really people problems. Traffic shows that how we behave walking the streets, on our bikes and in our cars is actually an astonishing cultural indicator and a living, constantly surprising model of what physicists call 'emergent collective behaviour' - as we all choose to do things that just don't seem to make rational sense. Vanderbilt chauffeurs us through why it's so hard to pay attention in traffic, why women cause more congestion than men, the experimental uses of mimes to correct bad driving, which bumper stickers can get you in trouble with the police, what factors make us more likely to honk our horns and a host of other eye-opening highway conundrums. This book will change the way you see the world, and not just through your windshield.