July 4


Summer Reading Favorites from the MikeOnTraffic Staff

By Mike Spack

July 4, 2017

book, summer reading, traffic study manual

It’s summer time – time to soak up the great outdoor, enjoy time with family and friends and read some great books. Today, our staff shares their favorite reads for the summer, it’s an eclectic mix of books on business and industry and some just for fun, with one shameless plug for one of our own publications. Take a look at what our staff is reading. What are you reading this summer? We would love to hear from you!

Mike Spack’s Top Book Picks
Founder and President – Spack Consulting, Counting Cars and Spack Academy and author of Mike On Traffic

Book - DecisiveDecisive:  How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

I’m a big fan of all of the books the Heath Brothers have written, but I think Decisive is their most relevant book for engineers.  I find myself routinely using pieces of their WRAP Process (Widen your options, Realty test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, Prepare to be wrong) and would benefit from using the whole system more diligently.  We should use this system whenever making significant decisions, whether about projects, business or teaching kids.


Book - Signal and the NoiseThe Signal and the Noise:  Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t
by Nate Silver

I wrote a about The Signal and the Noise when it first came out.  Bryant and I are working on how to apply Silver’s thinking to the traffic analysis/forecasting process.  No other book has made me examine standard traffic engineering wisdom so much.

Bryant’s Review: Mike made his list first, but I have to echo this one. The information and stories about learning and refining base assumptions and data have made a major impact on us.


Book - 80 20 Sales and Marketing80/20 Sales and Marketing
By Perry Marshall

I’d heard about the Pareto Principle before, but I didn’t understand how to harness its power. The idea that 20% of the effort produces 80% of results is so common it seems to almost be a natural law of nature.  Marshall’s book is packed with ideas of how to use the principle on the job.  It’s especially powerful if you’re a manager or business owner. This book changed how I work.



Bryant Ficek’s, Top Book Picks
VP – Spack Consulting 

Book - Traffic Why We Drive the Way We DoTraffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
by Tom Vanderbilt

Predictable for a traffic engineer, but still a good read. It reinforces my often stated view, handed down from former boss Sheldon Johnson (retired traffic engineer and all-around good guy), that traffic engineering is part science and part art. I also like the way Vanderbilt makes you think about routine driving in a different light.


Book - Belgariad SetThe Belgariad Set, Books 1-5
by David Eddings

A fantasy series in the vein of Lord of the Rings, it’s a classic good versus evil story complete with magic, monsters, swords, and some tough names to pronounce. I also liked the character development and the sense of humor placed throughout. Hey – these don’t all have to be about business.



Traffic Study ManualTraffic Study Manual – The Insider’s Guide to Studying the Traffic Impacts of a Proposed Development
by Mike Spack and Bryant Ficek

Well written instruction manual on completing your basic traffic impact study. Presents lot of useful information without reading like a text book. Beyond discussing the processes involved, you will also find examples, useful checklists, and anecdotal stories that make this book a must-have for any traffic engineer. The authors are flat-out great guys, too!


Max Moreland’s Top Book Pick
Director of Operations – Traffic Data Inc. 

The MartianThe Martian
by Andy Weir

For the past several months I’ve been preparing for the PE exam. When I needed a break from studying for the exam, I read The Martian. The book is about an astronaut stranded alone on Mars who uses his engineering skills to try and stay alive.  There are a lot of numbers and scientific concepts involved in his struggle for survival, so it was a good book for a study break without getting me too far out of the engineering mindset.  I’m not typically a sci-fi fan, but I really enjoyed this one.  Though at times it’s a bit crass and cheesy, it’s quite the page turner.



Vern Swing, PE
Traffic Engineer – Spack Consulting

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice 
by Bill Browder

In the summer I enjoy relaxing with a good book. If you are looking for a great escape, I recommend Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice. It’s the story of one man taking on overpowering odds to change the world and what happens when you accuse the Russian government of corruption.


  • Great options guys!

    The two books on my shelf right now staring me in the face at my desk… “Traffic” by Vanderbilt and “The Signal and the Noise” by Silver. Lol. Excellent duo of books.

    Where’s the “Video/PC games to encourage your kid to become a traffic engineer” list? SimCity, Lemmings, Farming Simulator, Ceasar III, Need for Speed, etc? 🙂

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    Mike Spack

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