Archive for January 5th, 2009

Meeting Your Readers

Not to turn this space into the NY Times’ “Metropolitan Diary” or anything, but I had a curious and gratifying moment yesterday. I’m currently in Sanibel Island, Florida, where my biggest traffic concern is generally trying to figure out if the thing I can see in the dead tree to my distant left as I drive is a peregrine falcon or a red-shouldered hawk. In any case, at the local bookstore I saw a flyer announcing a pickup-soccer game the following morning (the guy announced he needed a break from “family time”). Being a soccer nut and definitely suffering withdrawal symptoms, I resolved to attend. It turned out I was the only one who did, apart from the three early twenty-something guys hosting it. After an intense first-half of two-on-two, we were chatting in the shade. We were talking about what we did, and I mentioned Traffic, then preparing myself to make the explanatory pitch… Before I could, however, one of the three, Scott, perked up and said “you wrote Traffic?” Not only had he bought and read the book on a plane, but apparently a friend had bought it for him as well (was there ever more rapturous music to a writer’s ears?) We talked for a while about Boston drivers and such, then played a bit longer in the noonday heat, then went our separate ways. I think it was a draw, by the way.

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 1:20 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Backseat Buckling

As I note in Traffic, sitting in the backseat offers a more substantial benefit than front-seat airbags. A piece in Japan’s Daily Yomiuri notes how much safer still that becomes when backseat passengers are belted:

“The number of road traffic deaths in 2008 decreased by 10.3 percent from 2007. The dramatic decrease is partly due to the increased rate of passengers in backseats wearing seat belts, the NPA said.

“In many serious accidents, passengers who were riding in backseats were found to have been thrown through windows. However, statistics show the fatality rate of backseat passengers wearing a seat belt is one-fourth that of those who do not wear a seat belt. Currently, drivers receive a penalty point only when their backseat passengers do not wear seat belts on expressways. However, the NPA is considering penalizing drivers whose passengers do not wear seat belts on all roads.

If most of backseat passengers wear seat belts, the annual number of road traffic deaths will decrease below 5,000,” an NPA senior official said.”

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 12:59 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Those Were the Days

From the delightful “automobile touring game” chronicled over at things magazine.

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 12:41 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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El D.F.

“Apart from the obvious problems of traffic and transportation, the growth created other confusing complications. Today, out of the city’s eighty-five thousand streets, there are about eight hundred fifty called Juarez, seven hundred fifty named Hidalgo, and seven hundred known as Morelos. Two hundred are called 16 de Septiembre, while a hundred more are 16 de Septiembre Avenue, Alley, Mews, or Extension.”

That’s a snippet from David Lida‘s First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, Capital of the 21st Century. I have been to the city many times — and on the most recent trip was delighted by the car-free Sundays program in the center — but this book deepened my knowledge and appreciation.

Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 12:37 pm by: Tom Vanderbilt
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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Transport column to me at:

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage:

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency:

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau:

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013 “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Grand Rapids MI



January 2009

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