Book Summary: Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt

Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt Book Cover

Traffic is a non-fiction book written by Tom Vanderbilt that explores the complexities of transportation and how it affects our lives. The book delves into the history of transportation, the psychology of driving, the impact of traffic on our environment, and the future of transportation. Vanderbilt takes a comprehensive approach to the subject, providing readers with a wealth of information and insights that are both informative and thought-provoking.

Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1: The History of Traffic

In the first chapter of Traffic, Vanderbilt traces the history of transportation from its earliest beginnings to the present day. He discusses the development of the horse-drawn carriage, the introduction of the automobile, and the growth of the automotive industry. Vanderbilt also examines the impact of transportation on society and how it has shaped our cities and communities.

Chapter 2: The Psychology of Driving

In this chapter, Vanderbilt explores the psychological aspects of driving, including how drivers perceive and respond to their surroundings, the impact of distractions on driving behavior, and the role of emotions in driving. He also discusses the importance of attention and focus when driving and how technology can both help and hinder these abilities.

Chapter 3: The Environmental Impact of Traffic

In this chapter, Vanderbilt examines the environmental impact of transportation, including the effects of pollution, climate change, and resource depletion. He also discusses the role of public policy in addressing these issues and the challenges of implementing sustainable transportation solutions.

Chapter 4: The Future of Transportation

In the final chapter of Traffic, Vanderbilt looks to the future of transportation, exploring the potential of new technologies such as electric vehicles, autonomous cars, and smart cities. He also discusses the challenges of implementing these technologies and the need for a comprehensive approach to transportation planning.


Traffic is a thought-provoking book that provides readers with a wealth of information about the complexities of transportation. Vanderbilt’s comprehensive approach to the subject allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of the history, psychology, and environmental impact of transportation, as well as the potential of new technologies to shape the future of transportation. Whether you are a seasoned driver or simply interested in the impact of transportation on our lives, Traffic is a must-read book that provides readers with a wealth of insights and information.

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