Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, by Tom Vanderbilt – Men’s Book Club
The group was divided on this title, with half thinking it was a wonderful and fascinating read, and the rest thinking it was a horribly tedious read. I happen to fall in the middle, in that it had plenty of fascinating facts, but since it was presented in a textbook manner, it fell flat. This material would have been well received by all, I would think, if it had been written as a series of long magazine articles or something like that. Vanderbilt mentions endless studies on traffic and driving patterns and reports from all over the world with his findings. On almost every other page I discovered an unusual or interesting tidbit, but it really took a lot of dedication to get through those pages. Some of the best discoveries: in Jakarta you can hire a “car jockey” to help you meet your passenger quota for car pool lanes; an Australian ad campaign persuades drivers to give the pinkie to aggressive drivers to suggest that the driver is overcompensating for deficient male anatomy; during the Oscars, the LA Department of Transportation’s Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control utilizes field engineers at intersections who relay requests for a change in traffic light status back to headquarters, in a huge effort to get the 800 or more limousines to the Kodak Theater for the event; there are 48 different modes of transportation in Delhi, all sharing the same roads; and in Finland traffic tickets are tied to a percentage of your income, which resulted in a $71,400 ticket for an Internet entrepreneur going 43 in a 25 mph zone. It’s all very interesting, but for me the book lacked flow, was too heavy on statistics and just wasn’t an enjoyable read, but give it a try and maybe you’ll find it is right up your alley, as half of our group found.