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The language of traffic

Have you ever noticed when traveling, how years of driving habits can washed away after two days of driving in a different place? I have found this in my own experience as well - it's amazing how quickly I leave (bad) Boston driving habits behind when I visit Switzerland or South Carolina.

Traffic is like language. It generally works best if everyone knows and obeys the rules of grammar.

If you're absolutely unfamiliar with it, it will seem confusing, chaotic, and fast. Learn a few words, and patterns begin to emerge. Become more fluent, and suddenly it all makes sense.
This excerpt is from a terrific Book called Traffic - Why we drive the way we do.

The book is mostly about traffic, of course, but it has an entire chapter dedicated to driving around the world. Examples from Rome, New Delhi, New York, and elsewhere demonstrate how driving habits are influenced by culture - and how traffic also creates its own culture.

From "jaywalking" in Copenhagen to driving on the Italian autostrada to the comparative efficiency of intersections in Toyko and Beijing, the book is chock-full with great anectodes and information.

But there's also more to the book. Flipping through a few chapter titles and headings is rewarding all by itself:
  • Why You're Not as Good a Driver as You Think You Are (doesn't apply to us, of course)
  • Why Ants Don't Get Into Traffic Jams (and Humans Do)
  • Why More Roads Lead to More Traffic (and What to Do About it)
  • When Dangerous Roads Are Safer
  • Why You Shouldn't Drive with a Beer-Drinking Divorced Doctor Named Fred on Super Bowl Sunday in a Pickup Truck in Rural Montana: What's Risky on the Road, and Why (our favorite)
If you're looking for a fun and educational summer read, be sure to pick up Traffic - Why we drive the way we do.

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1 Comment:

  1. Bob said...
    I really enjoyed this entry. It brought me back to me time driving in the UK. I did pretty well driving to Bath, Stonehenge, etc. but when I drove back into London at midnight, after a long day, I became a real road hazard.

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