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

We found 61 Reddit comments about Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us). Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
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61 Reddit comments about Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us):

u/ravennaMorgan · 35 pointsr/AdviceAnimals

Yep, the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do does a good job explaining this. Regardless of whether you feel it's fair to merge at the end it is faster for everyone and when people try to block people from merging or merge way early it creates backups that can echo for miles.

u/Socky_McPuppet · 30 pointsr/mildlyinfuriating

Stop projecting, and educate yourself.

When two lanes go down to one, study after study and simulation after simulation shows that the best way to get the maximum number of cars through in the shortest period of time is to use all the available roadway - the merge point is supposed to be at the end of the lane that is "going away", not when you first see the "lane ends" sign.

Source: Traffic

u/dkl415 · 26 pointsr/AdviceAnimals

Yep. Traffic Everyone merging too early slows the overall flow of traffic, and simply causes the congestion earlier.

u/Bluedevil88 · 21 pointsr/baltimore

Roads are like the Field of Dreams, "If you build it they will come" and fill up all the lanes.

Great book on Traffic and Traffic design:

u/Bluedevil1945 · 16 pointsr/baltimore

It is basically garbage and a waste of my hard-earned taxdollars. The reason it is garbage is because the assumption is that building highways reduces congestion. This is not true. What it does is increases capacity which means more people will then drive as the capacity has you end up back where you started...a congested road. This is what will happen in the short-term.

This, coupled with trends of one-car ownership and the beginnings of driverless cars, means this is a waste of taxpayer dollars as the demand won't exist either so there is not a need to build more highways. This is what will happen in the long-term.

Indeed, sticking what what already exists may be enough to meet the demand of a reduced car culture and more efficient and computerized driving patterns.

Arguably, a better solution is to build out more efficient regional public transportation such as trolleys, busses, rail, bike lanes, etc for a more long term solution. In the short-term shore up what already exists.

Great book on the topic:

u/simmelianben · 9 pointsr/sociology

Try the book below by Tom Vanderbilt. It's a decent look at some of the social issues that come up in driving along with the mathematical background that makes them problems. Very interesting and changed my driving patterns substantially.

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

u/Mankowitz- · 8 pointsr/ottawa

If you are interested by this video, I would highly recommend the book Traffic. It is aimed at a layperson, and it touches on this and other sometimes counterintuitive concepts in Traffic. It is actually a really good read with a lot of academic sources (although they are just listed at the end of each chapter without direct citations).

The hook of the book: is it better for traffic flow if, when faced with a lane that will soon end, you merge over as soon as you can, or wait until the lane ends? (Spoiler: either works as long as everyone agrees, but no matter what, late merging is more efficient).

The synopsis says a lot more about it so I'll copy paste it:

>In this brilliant, lively, and eye-opening investigation, Tom Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots. Traffic is about more than driving: it's about human nature. It will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us, and it may even make us better drivers.

u/superduck85 · 7 pointsr/Atlanta

They should hand out free copies of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt to explain how/why this works.

There's solid science behind these signs...but of course you have to have signs that actually function correctly.

edit: added link to book.

u/kempff · 6 pointsr/Roadcam

Yep, I do the same thing.

Most people don't understand that tailgating is what causes waves of stop-and-go traffic.

More info:

And I am dismayed that so many people don't understand this concept:

u/SpinkickFolly · 4 pointsr/videos

I agree. From the book Traffic, it mentions a study where 1 in 3 accidents occur from not paying at attention at the exact wrong moment where a reaction needed to happen to avoid a collision.

She also had enough distance to actual stop in time. Anyone is a liar if they never admitted to having a near miss from not paying attention. It happens, people can make it happen less by paying attention more, its never 100% though. Its why drivers are supposed to leave a good following distance or never perform aggressive lane changes, it allows a buffer to be able fuck up and prevent a potential collision.

u/matrixclown · 4 pointsr/Charlotte

There's a link between how at ease you feel as a driver and the speed that you drive. If you feel perfectly at ease, like when you're on the highway and no one is around you, you'll drive faster. If you feel unease, like the road is narrow or there are kids playing with a ball near the road, you'll drive slower.

It seems a bit counter intuitive that making an unsafe road smaller makes it safer, but it really does change driving behavior. I'd recommend Tom Vanderbilt's book Traffic if you're interested in this kind of thing.

u/C0git0 · 4 pointsr/Seattle

There is also much research that shows that the more rules you give someone, the less they think logically. This creates a problem when things happen that do not have prescribed rules as the driver/biker is used to a operating in an environment on "auto-pilot."

The book "Traffic" is a fantastic read and details a couple of studies, a really great read, highly recommended:

u/Snaztastic · 4 pointsr/YouShouldKnow

Yeah, we have all been brought up to see those people as self-righteous assholes, but transportation engineers have determined that a zipper merge, occurring as close to the point of obstruction as possible, is most efficient (40-50% more efficient than current practice). The Minnesota DOT recently adopted this practice and began a campaign of awareness.

If traffic interests you, check out the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt. Super interesting quick read, and you'll learn a lot about interacting with urban traffic efficiently.

Michigan DOT Citations 1 2.pdf

u/mrj1013 · 4 pointsr/Showerthoughts

I read a book about this. Pretty interesting stuff. Also that if people actually obeyed variable speed limit signs they would get there faster than when they tailgate and the accordion effect jams everything up.

u/cocineroylibro · 4 pointsr/Denver
u/Hepcat10 · 4 pointsr/cincinnati

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

You would probably enjoy this book. Seriously. I read it and now dealing with traffic is kinda fascinating, watching as all this data compiled yields insight into patterns, and how to anticipate and avoid them. (Yes, all puns intended)

u/with_the_choir · 4 pointsr/todayilearned

This is part of what bothers me about all of the vilification of driving with cellphones. It's not that cellphones aren't bad on the road, it's just that the proportions of the crackdown don't match up with the data about the actual danger.

In Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us, the author delves pretty seriously into the data about distracted driving. The real moments of danger are picking up the phone, dialing, and hanging up. Talking with the phone to your ear is not particularly problematic once you get to the point that you can keep your eyes on the road.

u/AndersBakken · 4 pointsr/AdviceAnimals

This is actually the optimal way to drive. Every bit of road should be used. You may seem like an asshole if you're the only one doing it but ideally everyone would do it. It leads to better traffic flow. Source is somewhere in here:

u/cbarx · 4 pointsr/chicago

In the event that you are genuinely curious about what causes traffic jams, I'd highly recommend checking out "Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)" by Tom Vanderbilt.. Better yet, listen to it on tape while you crawl the Kennedy.

u/Dekker · 3 pointsr/videos

There was at least one chapter on this in Traffic: why we drive the way we do. Removing signs and other 'safety' warnings forced people to be more perceptive and careful when driving. Also mentioned that many of the 'dangerous' roads (no guardrails, cliffs, etc) were actually safer than normal highways because people drive more carefully in those situations.

edit: from an interview with the author:

Q: You write, "The truth is the road itself tells us far more than signs do." So do traffic signs work?

A: We’ve probably all had the somewhat absurd moment of driving in the country, past a big red barn, the pungent smell of cow manure on the breeze, and then seeing a yellow traffic sign with a cow on it. Does anyone need that sign to remind them that cows may be nearby? To quote Hans Monderman, the legendary Dutch traffic engineer who was opposed to excessive signing, "if you treat people like idiots, they’ll act like idiots." Then again, perhaps someone did come blazing along and hit a crossing cow or a tractor, and in response engineers may have been forced to put up a sign. The question is: Would that person have done that regardless of the sign?

The bulk of evidence is that people don’t change their behavior in the presence of such signs. Children playing, School zone? People speed through those warnings, faster than they even thought, if you query them later. To take another example, the majority of people killed at railroad crossings in the U.S. are killed at crossings where the gates are down.

If this is insufficient warning that they should not cross the tracks then is a sign warning that a train might be coming really going to change behavior? At what point do people need to rely on their own judgment? We as humans seem to act on the message that traffic signs give us in complex ways — studies have shown, for example, that people drive faster around curved roads that are marked with signs telling them the road is curved. We tend to behave more cautiously in the face of uncertainty.

u/jakdak · 3 pointsr/funny

I believe I read that in Tom Vanderbilt's "Traffic"

But it's been awhile and I don't have the book handy to check.
Worth reading in any case.

u/nottings · 3 pointsr/WhitePeopleTwitter

There is a book by Tom Vanderbilt, “Traffic”, that actually debunks this fallacy. You don’t even have to buy the book to read the section apropos to this topic. see excerpt here

u/Infini-Bus · 3 pointsr/bikecommuting

Reminds me of a book I read that suggested driving a car inflates our sense of personal space and in turn, our ego. Interesting book for people who drive.

I don't get violent road rage, but I do get verbal road rage. The other day I was driving my girlfriend home from work and someone made a bad lane change or turn and I was like "I hope everyone in their family dies. sees dog by a house OOH! LOOK A DOGGY!" I don't really mean the things I say of course, it's just shit talk (except when I see a dog).

u/dudeArama · 3 pointsr/Louisville

I live on a road that connects to Chenoweth Lane and really fear a widening. There's always foot traffic along the road, even a crosswalk so students can walk to Chenoweth Elementary. If the road is widened and it looks more like a speedway than a lived-in area, cars will act accordingly. If you all are interested in how traffic patterns affect our behavior, I really recommend this book:

u/gigglyweeds · 3 pointsr/running

On a bike you are moving at or near the speed of traffic, in other words you make sense to drivers. Running you are not, it is best to leave it up to your own instincts.

If you read the book Traffic it describes how poorly drivers react to things moving slower than they are. It's chock full of statistics and law.

u/happywaffle · 3 pointsr/Austin

A good starting place would be "Traffic" by Tom Vanderbilt. But all you need to do is watch the behavior of beans falling down a chute to observe the exact same behavior (see my other reply).

u/cavedave · 3 pointsr/sysor

Traffic is a great book. I bore everyone by recommending it constantly.

I t deals with the paradoxes of human cognitive biases and traffic. Economist Tyler cowen likes it

u/piecrazy47 · 3 pointsr/PublicFreakout

You should read this book, it's pretty informative on this topic

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

u/FlyingPhotog · 3 pointsr/Roadcam

If you read the book "Traffic," it specifically says that vigilantism like what the Civic attempted just breeds contempt in the eyes of bad drivers, and doesn't actually serve as any sort of corrective measure. The truck may not have thought he did anything wrong, despite the Civic.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/engineering
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb - Richard Rhodes. Pulitzer Prize winner, and does a great job explaining the relationship between theoretical physics, experimental physics, and engineering.

  • Moral Machines - Wendall Wallach and Colin Allen. Explains the difficulties of getting any machine or algorithm to behave ethically. Philosophy for engineers.

  • Alan Turing: The Enigma - Andrew Hodges. Turing is just a fascinating guy, and author Hodges is an Oxford mathematician. From a reviewer: "An almost perfect match of biographer and subject."

  • Traffic - Tom Vanderbilt. A very readable, very popular overview of traffic engineering.
u/ikidd · 2 pointsr/Whatcouldgowrong

Read Traffic. It actually corroborates what /u/alexmg2420 says. Assuming, of course, that the receiving lane acts civil and lets traffic alternate in.

u/drushkey · 2 pointsr/CitiesSkylines

That's a difficult question for me to answer. Someone working in career placement (or whatever it's called - someone who helps you chose a career) could probably give you a better general answer.

In terms of games, you could try playing OpenTTD (Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe) or Cities in Motion 2 (the game Colossal Order made before Cities: Skylines). Both have a much stronger transportation focus, with a good deal more micromanagement and therefore a steeper learning curve, and are a notch closer to what I do IRL. If you can play either/both for days without getting bored, you might want to be a traffic engineer.

If you'd rather read, you could get Traffic: Why we drive the way we do. I think it's a good read for anyone who lives on a street. If you read that and think "I wish this was 10 times longer and also my life", you might want to be a traffic engineer.

If you want to dive into some more technical stuff, wikipedia has some good articles, e.g. on the Braess paradox (the math is interesting, but you can probably skip over it since it's pretty high-level, abstract stuff). If you get to the bottom of that and start clicking all the "See also" links, you might want to be a traffic engineer.

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask :)

u/firenze86 · 2 pointsr/Calgary

This is correct. Good Work! People who downvote this are retarded. Only problem is there are humans involved (like the ones down voting common sense) and they are good at fucking everything over for their own personal gain.

Though I almost always go out of my way to never let Escalades merge no matter the circumstances are!!!

Edit: Everyone should have to read this book before getting a drivers license. You can read the late merging section in the preview.

u/Reedpo · 2 pointsr/Denver

You might enjoy this book. Or hate it... The prologue is titled: "Why I Became a Late Merger (and Why You Should Too)"

u/FatBabyGiraffe · 2 pointsr/Economics

Thanks for sharing. Only problem I see is getting drivers used to riders sharing lanes. You can pass as many laws as you want, but if social norms dictate otherwise, people will ignore them.

A great book on driving in general is Traffic

I would love if Illinois got behind this. We have terrible roads as is.

u/walkinthecow · 2 pointsr/LifeProTips

Traffic: Why we Drive the way we so and What it says about Us Is a book you would probably really enjoy. I can't remember it specifically getting into traffic lights very heavily, though I'm sure the topic is covered a bit. The book is infinitely more interesting than one would ever assume by the title alone. It's an easy read, not like a text book or anything, just full of interesting facts and insight on the human relationship with driving.

u/Erythrocruorin · 2 pointsr/pics

You live in that? Oh my. If that represents their very best ideas about how to design good traffic flow, I'd be terrified to think about what other "brilliant" ideas they come up with. My heart goes out to you.

For something uplifting, check out Tom Vanderbilt's fantastic book on traffic.

u/Jrix · 2 pointsr/DoesAnybodyElse

Most people use that strategy, even the people you're judging probably use that strategy most of the time. I'm not really sure of the relevance of this counter point. Are you suggesting there is no benefit to the "hope light turns green" strategy?

You seem to be suggesting that you do not laugh when they make a green light, even though the decision remains the same. (Your "laugh" is obviously a reference to the person, not the circumstances)

Btw I recommend this book. Maybe it can help shed your attitude a bit (sorry about the high horse and all, the ground's all dirty).

u/-PM_ME_YOUR_SMILE- · 2 pointsr/videos

There is a really interesting book by a man named Tom Vanderbilt called Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us). I suggest anyone that finds this video interesting to check this book out.

u/ood_lambda · 2 pointsr/askscience

I'd recommend reading Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us). It's an excellent introduction to traffic science and why certain certain laws and recommendations exist. My only real complaint is it should have been about 100 pages shorter and I found myself skipping several large sections.

u/pricecheckaisle4 · 2 pointsr/Edmonton

You might enjoy this - it was a fun read, full of great nuggets like the above.

u/Drew707 · 1 pointr/AskReddit

You would like this book:

Check this out on AMZN:

u/lepht · 1 pointr/AskReddit

You should read Traffic then. Just got done reading it on my Kindle, and it's damn interesting, if a bit dry at times.

u/elus · 1 pointr/Design


This book had great overview of various design choices taken in different countries.

u/er0k · 1 pointr/Roadcam

Check out this book if you are interested

u/DaPM · 1 pointr/government

Did you read Traffic ?

That book had some very interesting insight on how streets can be made safer by making them less safe...

u/ILXXLI · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

there's a very interesting book called Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do.

Basically, a small fluctuation in the flow of traffic on a highway will have repercussions that will affect dozens and dozens of miles of road and last for hours after the fluctuation. Now, consider how many fluctuations there are every minute on a crowded highway, and you can begin to understand what causes traffic congestion.

u/theJAW · 1 pointr/pics
u/buddhabelly18 · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

Also, a lot of the reason this occurs is because we do not perceive cars to be "human," so some of the social cues and norms we take from face-to-face interaction / eye contact tend to go out the window because we unconsciously forget that humans are in other cars.


u/designerfx · 1 pointr/changemyview

I recall the book traffic talks about these kinds of things actually helping traffic flow and generally improving the scenario. I'd recommend reading . What the book says tends to echo this article:


>If you're traveling this holiday weekend, you might want to know the most efficient way to merge--and it's not what most drivers consider to be common courtesy.
>Say you're driving along in the center lane on a traffic-filled highway, and the left lane is ending in a few hundred yards, due to construction or the way the road is built. The polite drivers in that left lane put their blinkers on right away, and move over as soon as someone lets them in. The rude drivers zip to the end of their lane--passing you and many other drivers in the center lane. Then they merge in as soon as they can, effectively cutting in front of you and other center-lane drivers in the process.
>You might be annoyed enough to respond to one of those rude drivers with an obscene gesture. But guess what? A lot of studies show those rude drivers are helping traffic flow better. It makes sense if you think about it: Those apparently rude drivers are putting more of the roadway to use and thus helping speed things along, in much the same way water flows faster through a funnel than through a straw.

So, it's normal to feel the rudeness of the other person as you see them as "not being a part of your group" but in reality not only do they a: not have a sense of self (and a sense of you) from a brain standpoint (your brain sees it as another car, not another person), but you have almost NO method to communicate with them. So, whether you let them in or not your communication is disregarded. There's psychology behind that too but it'll take me a while to find the reference.

The book references that because you don't "See" people, you don't like to cooperate with them either.



u/ChillSygma · 1 pointr/boulder

Still, be careful. Eye contract improved pedestrian recognition a bit but doesn't even come anywhere close to 100%

I believe there are also studies where motorcyclist perceived eye contact but the drivers were blind to the situation. Can't find that one so I am not 100% certain. It was referenced in what I think is one of the best books ever that everyone should read. And then also become a late merger.

u/Francis_the_Goat · 1 pointr/sandiego

I read about it in this book:
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
by Tom Vanderbilt

It's a really interesting book, highly recommended,

u/Delysid52 · 1 pointr/news

but seriously widening roads does cause more congestion. increasing more lanes does the same thing. more people start using it

u/CNoTe820 · 1 pointr/nyc

Actually I'm indifferent to the question of whether to add a subway to staten island. If it goes through Brooklyn then the commute will still be long and it won't be a rush to move there. If there's a tunnel straight to lower manhattan there will be a huge rush to move there.

I think Triboro Rx would help more people since it would help three boros instead of one, and it would help connect the outer boros in a way that might let businesses open outside of Manhattan and ease the pressure on the Manhattan side. But at the same time I see the fairness in making sure all 5 boros have a subway. Hence my indifference.

> Are you saying that people should suffer long inconvenient commutes so property values are kept low? Who would want that?

Lots of people want that. If you read the book Traffic ( they talk about how the average commute has stayed at 30 minutes throughout thousands of years of human history. Technological changes like cars and subways just allow us to live further out while maintaining the same average commute time.

So yes, some people want a very short walkable commute and are willing to pay a lot of money for that, some people are ok with a 30 minute commute for more moderate rent, and some people are fine with a 1.5 hour commute for even cheaper real estate. A lot of people would be very upset as the rents go up, just like they are in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx right now.

u/lettuce · 1 pointr/transit

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt. There's also a good blog but isn't updated very often anymore.

u/otaku_convention · 1 pointr/BlackPeopleTwitter

Late, but I recommend Traffic , from Tom Vanderbilt.

u/puma721 · 0 pointsr/lincoln

So you're still going to say that Lincoln drivers specifically are the problem, and not their unfamiliarity or reduced capacity to drive (old folks) or poor city planning?

u/plarson · 0 pointsr/Austin

Read "Traffic" . It changed my mind about a lot of traffic ideas.

u/comment_moderately · -1 pointsr/boston

> People fly down lane 2 past the queue and then squeeze in at the last minute.

Perhaps counterintuitively, this is actually the best policy to maximize traffic through-put--as noted above, it means more cars are traveling in the same amount of road. However seemingly unfair, it's more efficient. See Vanderbilt, Traffic, at 46-50. ("Late merge... showed a 15% improvement in traffic flow.")

u/westondeboer · -6 pointsr/AdviceAnimals

the less you are driving the less chance you will be in a car accident, so cutting in at the last minute reduces your chance of dying.

I read this brilliant book about trafffic

Or something.